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Looks Like Jeopardy! Will Continue (Mostly) as Planned for Season 40

Taping kicks off August 15 amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
  • Ken Jennings is likely returning to host Season 40 of Jeopardy!. (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)
    Ken Jennings is likely returning to host Season 40 of Jeopardy!. (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)

    Despite a backlash from past contestants and some viewers, Jeopardy! Season 40 is on track to premiere on September 11 as originally announced. According to a call for audience members sent out by casting company On Camera Audiences today, filming begins on August 15, with four episodes taping each day. There will be six separate days of taping for regular Jeopardy! through August 31 and two days of taping for Celebrity Jeopardy! on August 21 and August 23.

    Because of the ongoing WGA strike, which Jeopardy! writers are a part of, the clues and answers from past seasons will be reused for Season 40. Past contestants and some viewers pushed back on the strategy when it was announced, and the most winning contestants of the past season who were set to compete in the Tournament of Champions said they refused to cross the picket line. That tournament, which typically tapes in August and September and airs in November, has been tabled for now.

    According to USA Today, the clues for Celebrity Jeopardy! were written before the actors’ strike, and that series is expected to return in a primetime slot in late September. As of now, neither contestants nor a host for the celebrity tournament have been announced — Mayim Bialik hosted the previous season of the series, but has since stepped away from her co-hosting Jeopardy! gig in solidarity with the WGA strike and is now on strike herself as a member of SAG-AFTRA. Ken Jennings, who is not a member of SAG-AFTRA, finished out Season 39 solo and is expected to return for Season 40.

    While the SAG-AFTRA rules technically do allow its members to participate in game shows and other unscripted television, it’s still unclear whether or not actors will cross the picket line to participate. Production on other celebrity-focused reality television has already been pushed, and it looks like Celebrity Jeopardy! could follow suit, or at the very least rely on celebrities not tied to the unions, like athletes, musicians, and reality stars — though even the latter are now pushing to unionize and showing solidarity.

    Update (Monday, August 7 at 1:00 PM ET): TV Line reports that Jeopardy! Season 40 will be bringing back old contestants to start. 

    “I believe, principally that it would not be fair to have new contestants,” executive producer Michael Davies explained in a new episode of the show's Inside Jeopardy! podcast relesed Monday. “Making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek stage, doing it with non-original material or as we’ll talk about a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike. And so we decided that really we needed to invite back and give a second chance in general to players who probably thought that their chance to come back and play on the Alex Trebek stage had gone forever."

    Season 37 contestants who lost their initial game will have a chance to play the game again and then go up against Season 38 wild card players who already competed in a second chance tournament — those games will feature a combination of new clues written before the WGA strike and clues pulled from past seasons of the series. Davies also confirmed that the Tournament of Champions featuring players form Season 39 will not go into production until after the WGA strike is over and new questions can be written. 

    Jeopardy! Season 40 premieres September 11  (check local listings for time). Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Jeopardy!, Celebrity Jeopardy, Tournament of Champions, Ken Jennings, Mayim Bialik, SAG-AFTRA, TV Actors' Strike, TV Writers' Strike, Writers Guild of America