Time Warp, 1988: ‘Jeopardy!’ Searches For Contestants In Scranton
April 1988: The answer: “People from around Northeast Pennsylvania were given a chance to compete for a spot on this popular game show created by talk show host Merv Griffin.”
The question: “What is ‘Jeopardy!’?”
On April 4 and 5, 200 adults and 75 teenagers filled the Best Western University Inn in Scranton for a series of tests to try to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” The local contestant search was arranged with WYOU-TV Channel 22 and producers from Merv Griffin Enterprises.
“The tests given in Scranton this week are deliberately very difficult and harder than the program to make for the best possible contest,” show host Alex Trebek told a reporter over the telephone, adding that “lawyers and teachers make the best ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants.”
Out of the 200 adults who took the test, only 19 passed. Only three of the 75 teen contestants passed, too.
“On the whole, I’d rather be taking the SAT,” said Diane Lubniewski of Peckville, who passed the test.
Another successful exam-taker, Lou Sottile of West Scranton, said he studied for the test by using an exam from when a contestant search stopped in the area the previous year.
Trebek explained that the show’s producers would make their decision on potential contestants from those who passed the written test and how they performed in the game simulation at the contestant searches. He added that they also try to select people from all around the country and from different walks of life.
The game show started on NBC with host Art Fleming in March 1964. It ran on NBC until January 1975, when it was canceled. It made a short comeback in October 1978 but only lasted till March 1979.
In September 1984, “Jeopardy!” returned to the airwaves in syndication with host Trebek. To celebrate the show’s 35th anniversary, it will host an all-star tournament featuring some of the winningest and most popular players over the past few years in February 2019, according to the show’s website.
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