It seems that the show, or rather, the annual “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions, will not go on after all.
Earlier this week, past contestants revealed that they had declined their invitations to the annual tournament, saying that they felt uncomfortable crossing the picket lines. “Jeopardy!” writers are part of the Writers Guild of America and have been on strike for weeks now with no end in sight.
Although it remained unclear what producers would do with so many of the past contestants dropping out of the tournament, they issued a new statement clarifying that they never intended to film the annual tournament until a resolution was reached.
‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions Postponed After Contestants Refuse To Cross Writer’s Strike Picket Lines
Ray Lalonde, a painter from Toronto who won almost $400,000 from thirteen games last season, was one of the first to say that he was refusing to participate in the tournament, as previously reported by The Blast.
“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. 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,” he wrote. “As a supporter of the trade union movement, a union member’s son and a proud union member myself I have 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.”
Other Tournament of Champions candidates, including Chris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson, Ben Chan, Troy Meyer, Ben Goldstein, Luigi de Guzman, and Suresh Krishnan, all agreed to stand in solidarity with him. Pannullo, Lalonde, Chan, and Wilson had the four highest total winners over the past season, which made it seem impossible for the “Tournament of Champions” to continue without them.
Producers Claim They ‘Never Had Any Intention’ Of Holding The Tournament Of Champions Until After The Writer’s Strike
Days after Lalonde’s post made headlines, “Jeopardy!” producers were quick to claim that the annual tournament would be postponed. In a statement made to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures Television claimed it “never had any intention” of hosting the Tournament of Champions until after the writer’s strike was resolved.
“Jeopardy! never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved,” a spokesperson for the show said in a statement. “Further, no contestants from season 39 have been contacted regarding their availability for any postseason tournaments, including the TOC. The Jeopardy! postseason represents the pinnacle of our competition, and it should feature our strongest players playing our toughest original material.”
“Jeopardy! has a long history with and tremendous respect for the WGA and our writers. We have always been careful to honor our WGA agreements and we would never air game material not created by WGA writers,” the statement continued. “However, just as we did, led by Alex Trebek, during the 2007-2008 strike, we will deliver first-run episodes again this fall to more than 200 affiliate stations nationwide. Our current plan is to go into a holding pattern of sorts, pushing back the season 39 postseason to first produce original episodes featuring the best of our WGA written material.”
The statement concluded: “Everyone at Jeopardy! hopes that the guilds and the AMPTP can reach a fair resolution quickly. Celebrity Jeopardy! will return on ABC this fall with original material written by WGA writers before the strike. Jeopardy! and Celebrity Jeopardy! are covered under the SAG-AFTRA Network Code, which remains in effect.”
“Celerity Jeopardy!” winner Ike Barinholtz was also scheduled to participate in the Tournament of Champions, but cannot participate while the strike is in effect since they are a WGA Member. The “Celebrity Jeopardy!” tournament appears on primetime and is hosted by “The Big Bang Theory” alum Mayim Bialik. There is no word about the “Jeopardy! Masters” spinoff, which is hosted by Ken Jennings.
Former “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider took to Twitter to reveal that she is also refusing to participate in any “Jeopardy!” events until after the strike is over.
“Disappointed to hear that Jeopardy is considering this course of action,” she tweeted. “For what it’s worth, I, too, will not be participating in any Jeopardy productions that don’t use new clues written by their amazing, unionized writers under a fair, collectively bargained contract.”
Disappointed to hear that Jeopardy is considering this course of action. For what it’s worth, I, too, will not be participating in any Jeopardy productions that don’t use new clues written by their amazing, unionized writers under a fair, collectively bargained contract https://t.co/yBiqd1k1oa
— Amy Schneider (@Jeopardamy) July 25, 2023