Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Los Angeles - Jeopardy

So our main purpose of this trip was to attend the tapings of the last three rounds of the Jeopardy Battle of the Decades tournament.  Shane was the alternate, and sequestered away in the green room for the whole first day of taping, while Declan and I were in the studio audience.  It was a marathon of being well-behaved and quiet as the audience was miked during the performances too, so any peep that Declan made would be turn up on the show's audio.  Even during the commerical breaks when they weren't taping, Declan still had to be quiet as either Alex Trebek or announcer Johnny Gilbert would come out and talk to the studio audience.  Normally, audience members must be at least 10 years old, but Declan was invited to attend specially by the contestant coordinator, so we were working overtime to keep on our very best behaviour.   Declan was particularly excited to watch Ken Jennings play as he had been reading some of the children's trivia books that Ken has published- his line of Junior Genius guides.  Declan was also very excited to see Shane get up on stage and play a warm up round during a filming break.  He yelled "That's my Daddy!" for the whole audience to hear, and followed up with "He's the alternate!" by way of explanation.  It was very sweet- he was so proud of Shane!

With Cardboard Alex inside the Studio

Each day we were there they taped 5 episodes with an hour break for lunch.  During commercial breaks in the filiming of each episode, Alex Trebek would often solicit questions from the audience and everytime Declan's hand would shoot up right away.  I can't begin to express to you how much terror that would bring in to my heart, as there was no telling what he would come up with.  Indeed, the first time Alex called on Declan to ask a question, Declan said "I have seen you try to sell me things on a commercial, Alex Trebek".  It wasn't even a question- very much an accusation.  Luckily Alex seemed to relish the opportunity to talk about his work schilling for Colonial Penn Insurance.

After the end of the first day of tapings, we were mingling outside chatting with friends who were either playing in the tournament or there to watch it.  The "quiz" community is not overly large, and we have made a lot of friends through the various quiz groups that Shane is involved with, which overlaps with the Jeopardy crowd quite a bit, so this tournament was a nice little reunion.   I brought Declan over to meet Brad Rutter, who although he is not quite the household name that Ken Jennings is, he has beaten Ken Jennings before, is overall the most winningest player in Jeopardy history, and is the only player never to have lost a game.   I introduced him to Declan saying "this is Brad Rutter, he has won more money on Jeopardy than anybody else.  He's won over 3 and a half million dollars!"  Declan looks right at Brad and says "Where's Ken?"  To his credit, Brad laughed and retold the story in his contestant interview the next day, during the finals where he played against Ken Jennings again, and won again, adding another million to his total winnings.  Ken got a kick out of the story too, and sent Declan an autographed Junior Genius Guide for his troubles!

After the final taping we were all invited over to a Jeopardy 30th anniversary party over on the Wheel of Fortune set.   It was pretty tony, featuring signature blue cocktails, a french fry bar, and a candy table to end all candy tables.  For once we put no limits on Declan letting him fill up a whole punnet box with whatever candies he fancied.  He then proceeded to dance jigs for the producers and the contestant coordinators and anyone else who wanted to watch.

Partying with Alex

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