I’m very disappointed in “Jeopardy!” GOAT Ken Jennings. Although I enjoyed having him on my radio show several times and I’ve advocated for him to get the job as sole host of the show, his decision to cross picket lines at Sony studios to record episodes for the new season is just plain wrong.
Jennings has agreed to take over the hosting duties on “Celebrity Jeopardy,” too, after Mayim Bialik has announced she will not return to the Alex Trebek Stage while the WGA and SAG-AFTRA remain on strike. Which raises another question: who are the celebrities willing to cross the picket lines to participate? Does being a union member mean nothing to them?
Frankly, I’m surprised that members of other unions (e.g. IATSE) who work on the behind-the-scenes “Jeopardy!” crew — camera people, grips, audio techs, etc. — are willing to ignore the picket lines, too. I’m sure that if they went on strike against Sony, they’d expect WGA and SAG-AFTRA members to honor their line. It’s that kind of respect and reciprocity that gives unions like these power in the first place.
Furthermore, the producers’ decision to go forth with Season 40 by using old questions rather than hiring scab writers feels foul to me. I don’t know what’s in the show’s contract with the WGA, but if someone wanted to re-use my work to make more money, I’d want to be paid for it again.
In fact, I had a clause in all my broadcast contracts saying employers could never re-air any portion of my shows once we parted ways. Oh, you’re doing a station retrospective and want to include segments I hosted years ago — and you’re going to make money by running commercials adjacent to them? That’s fine, as long as you pay me!
They’ve also created an awkward position for former players who have been invited back for the new season. For many of them, even a single appearance on “Jeopardy!” was a life highlight, so the chance to return would be very exciting. To their credit, many former contestants have said that while they’d like another shot at the show, they won’t cross the picket lines, either.
Good for them. Good for Bialik. But Ken and crew, you’ve made a bad choice by putting people’s jobs in real “Jeopardy!”