As Jeopardy!‘s 39th season comes to a close on July 28, questions have arisen about whether Season 40 and the 2023 Tournament of Champions will go ahead as planned later this year.
The show’s landmark 40th season is due to start on September 11, but as the Writers Guild of America strike continues, Jeopardy! bosses are facing up to the prospect that the show may be forced to delay its Season 40 premiere.
Jeopardy! Executive Producer Michael Davies has had a series of high level meetings to plan for every possibility should the strike continue. One of the items discussed is whether Jeopardy! could return in September but use questions that have previously aired on the show during its long history. However, there are fears that this would anger members of the show’s loyal fan base who support the writers’ strike.
It is also unclear who would host the show should it return as planned on September 11. Mayim Bialik pulled out of the remainder of Season 39 in light of the strikes. Fellow host Ken Jennings came in to film the rest of the season, but the Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. is now also facing pressure from fans to step away in solidarity.
In recent days many former Jeopardy! champions have said the show should not go ahead. Some recent champs went as far as saying they would not participate in the upcoming TOC if the show crossed the picket line.
Ray LaLonde, who qualified for the TOC after winning 13 games earlier this year, took to Reddit on Friday, July 21, to share his thoughts on the upcoming season, where he claimed there are plans for the producers to re-use old questions if the WGA strike is still ongoing.
“I’d like to break my accustomed social media avoidance and reach out to the broad Jeopardy! community if I may,” LaLonde wrote. “There are now credible reports that the producers are making contingency plans to start filming the next season of the show with old and/or recycled material if the WGA strike remains unresolved.”
“I am a lifelong devoted fan of Jeopardy!, I am and will always be grateful for the experience I had on the show and the opportunity to participate in the TOC is beyond a dream come true for me,” he continued. “That being said, I believe that the show’s writers are a vital part of the show and they are justified in taking their job action to secure a fair contract for themselves and their fellow WGA members.”
LaLonde went on to say that he had “informed the show’s producers that if the strike remains unresolved, I will not cross a picket line to play in the tournament of champions.”
Four other recent champs backed LaLonde up, including Cris Pannullo, who commented, “As I have already told Ray personally, though like all of us I am a huge Jeopardy fan and it was a dream to appear on the show, I fully agree with his stance and will not participate in any games comprised of recycled clues while the WGA strike is in effect.”
Ben Chan shared the same sentiment, commenting, “Ray, thank you for taking this stand. If you are out, I am out.”
Hannah Wilson was also on board with the sit-out, writing, “I’ll stand with you, Ray! A TOC with all recycled clues doesn’t sound like much fun to play in, anyway.”
Meanwhile, Troy Meyer simply added, “I stand with Ray!”
Jeopardy‘s head writers, Billy Wisse and Michelle Loud, previously told Variety, “Our words are on the screen every night. There is no ‘Jeopardy’ without writers. Without us it’s just an empty blue screen.”
If the strike does continue into the fall, it’s possible Jeopardy! will air reruns of old episodes in place of a new season. The show already plans to broadcast several repeats over the summer, starting on July 25 on ABC with Jeopardy! Masters.
Reruns of the Second Chance tournament are scheduled to begin on July 31, just days after Season 39 concludes. This will be followed by a re-airing of last year’s TOC from August 14 to September 1. And the Producer Picks episodes will air on September 4.
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