First-ever ‘Jeopardy!” team contest draws top champions
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer
Tuesday, February 19
CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) — Glance around the “Jeopardy!” set during rehearsals for its first-ever team championship and it’s easy to be intimidated by the assembled brain power.
There’s Brad Rutter, whose overall “Jeopardy!” haul, $4.3 million, is the most won on any game show. And Ken Jennings, a 74-game winner and top moneymaker, with $2.5 million, in non-tournament “Jeopardy!” competition. And Buzzy Cohen, the reigning Tournament of Champions winner.
They’re among the six captains who will join their teams in competing for a top $1 million prize in a series of 10 episodes that begin airing Wednesday and conclude March 5. The other three captains: Julia Collins, No. 2 in overall winnings on the show; Colby Burnett, a Teachers Tournament and Tournament of Champions victor, and Austin Rogers, No. 5 in games and money won.
“It’s like the Mount Rushmore of ‘Jeopardy!’” observed Jimmy McGuire, part of the traveling “clue crew” that poses video answers from distant spots.
The 18 contestants were chosen primarily on the basis of their previous success, with an edge going to fan favorites as determined by social media, said Harry Friedman, executive producer of the syndicated show hosted by Alex Trebek and featuring announcer Johnny Gilbert.
Can “Jeopardy!” soloists work together? “We’re going to find out,” Trebek said.
The captains, who will also play, built their three-person teams from among the remaining 12 contestants. The full teams won’t play directly against each other, with one person from each team designated to compete in a game’s first round, another to play double “Jeopardy!” and the third to play the final round.
The winning teammates will get equal shares of the top prize, about $330,000 each, said Friedman. The second- and third-place prizes to be split are $300,000 and $100,000.
Players are working hard for the money, in the strategy sessions held at the beginning of each game and, more importantly, in the cramming that Friedman metaphorically termed “test prep on steroids.”
Exhibit A — as in type A — is Cohen, who created mental and physical training drills to prepare for his previous “Jeopardy!” appearances and resumed them for the tournament with teammates Alex Jacob and Jennifer Giles.
“I would go the gym, hang from a bar and have my trainer quiz me to try to recreate the stress” of being in the thick of the game, Cohen said. This time around, he added NFL reaction-time drills — to sharpen his skills with the buzzer that gives players a chance to score — along with “deep secrets” he gleaned from Jacob.
Rogers, whose team includes Roger Craig and Leonard Cooper (“I drafted up,” Rogers said of his picks, both educated and working in the sciences) said he’s so comfortable on the “Jeopardy!” set that it feels like home. But he admits to some anxiety.
“I do not care if I fail. But if I fail other people on something that I should know, that I should have memorized … like a world capital or an Oscar year, and I’m letting someone else down, that’s not cool,” he said.
Collins said she enjoyed taking a cooperative approach to a game that’s typically an individual experience, beyond splitting the workload.
“It is very solitary to be on the show in the normal format and compete alone, which is what you’d expect. But you go through the whole experience of the show by yourself, so it’s nice to have your teammates who are sharing that experience with you,” she said.
Burnett, who picked Pam Mueller and Alan Lin for his team, was eager to compete but said his work as a college counselor came first. “Even if I were to win the grand prize, it’s not as if I would or could retire. But I’m putting my best foot forward,” he said.
The other matchups are Jennings with Matt Jackson and Monica Thieu; Collins with Ingram and Wilson; Rutter with Larissa Kelly and David Madden.
There’s something else unprecedented besides the team format, producer Friedman said.
“We do a nice little opening interview piece at the beginning of the first episode with the six captains, and you’ll see some fun, good-natured trash talk,” Friedman said.
But Rogers, pointing to the other contestants on the set, said restraint was in order.
“Look at them,” he said playfully. “It’s not fair to beat up on nerds.”
Lynn Elber can be reached at lelberap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .
Arena Football League Announces 2019 Schedule, Rule Changes
New Rules Aimed at Increasing Speed of Game
Philadelphia, Pa. – The Arena Football League today (Feb. 13) announced its 2019 season schedule, along with rule changes for the upcoming season. AFL teams will play 12 regular-season games beginning on April 26th. The League will retain the playoff format adopted last season, with four teams advancing to the playoffs. The new rule changes will take effect this season and are designed to improve players’ safety, speed up the game and enhance the fans’ gameday experience.
“AFL football is the most exciting, high-scoring, innovative brand of football and we’re looking forward to bringing it to even more fans this season,” said Randall Boe, Commissioner of the AFL. “The rule changes will make the AFL game more thrilling and engaging as they speed play up, making the game last closer to two hours—which we think is the optimal amount of time.”
The AFL season will begin with a rematch of 2018’s ArenaBowl XXXI, when the Baltimore Brigade hosts the reigning ArenaBowl champions, the Washington Valor. In 2019, each team will play 12 regular-season games over the course of 13 weeks, allowing for one bye week per team. The regular season concludes on July 21, and playoffs begin on July 27.
The postseason will follow the same format as the 2018 postseason, with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs. There will be a pair of home-and-home series between the opponents in the first round of the playoffs. The two teams with the highest aggregate score following these games will advance to ArenaBowl XXXII, to be played in the second weekend of August. The ArenaBowl game is played as a traditional single-event game, with the winner being crowned the World Champions of Arena Football.
The new rules are aimed at shortening the length of games, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the action in a game already filled with intensity. Rule changes were made to the second-quarter timing rules, the fourth-quarter timing rules, media timeouts, coaches’ timeouts and timing after extra-point kicks.
· The first-half’s one-minute timing rules will be eliminated. There will be no automatic clock stoppage at the one-minute mark in the second quarter and the game clock will follow regular guidelines. Additionally, in the fourth quarter, the traditional AFL clock stoppage rules will not take effect until the thirty second mark.
· The number and duration of media timeouts will be reduced.
· Each team will have three timeouts per half. Two of the three timeouts will be clock-stoppage timeouts only: the game clock will stop and the play clock will reset immediately. The third team timeout in each half will remain a traditional timeout.
· A 60-second play clock will be implemented following the extra-point attempt, and/or two-point conversion attempt, with the exception of media timeouts.
Editor’s Note: Columbus will have a team in the league.