Ken Jennings returned to host “Jeopardy!” on Monday, kicking off the game show’s 40th season. He will continue as the sole host of both the flagship show and “Celebrity Jeopardy!”
Former co-host Mayim Bialik stepped down from hosting at the end of filming Season 39 in May out of solidarity with the striking writers, making the syndicated game show the first affected by the strikes.
At the time, Jennings was called a “scab” for not walking out with Bialik, but his podcast cohost John Roderick assured the public at the time that Jennings is “a SAG member in good standing” and that some fans had “no idea how organized labor functions.”
A rep for SAG-AFTRA confirmed to TheWrap on Monday that since the quiz show is a Network Television Code show, it is not part of the TV/Theatrical/Streaming contract and is “not struck.”
The same exemption applies from the Actors Guild for Drew Barrymore, who announced plans to bring back her daytime talk show despite the strikes.
However, the Writers Guild is not happy with the actress/host. Pickets started Monday outside the studio where her talk show tapes.
Spokesperson Jason Gordon told Vanity Fair, “‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is a WGA-covered struck television show. It has stayed off the air since the strike began on May 2nd, but has now (unfortunately) decided to return without its writers.”
Season 40 of “Jeopardy!” is also bringing back past contestants to give them another shot at becoming champions. The Second Chance competition will bring back 27 contestants from Season 37.
The show is also debuting a brand-new format: Champions Wildcard, which will premiere on Oct. 2. Players who won one, two or three games in Seasons 37 and 38, but did not make the cut for that year’s Tournament of Champions, will be invited back to compete for a spot in the next tourney.
This year’s Tournament of Champions will not take place until the strike is resolved, the game show’s producers stated in July.
Second and third place finishers will also be taking home more money this season: “Jeopardy!” has increased both of their prizes by $1,000. Second place will now go home with $3,000, while third place will leave with $2,000, Sony Pictures Television said in a press release.
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