ABC7 goes behind the scenes of 'Jeopardy!'

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For all the fans who watch "Jeopardy!" regularly on TV, we thought you might like to know what you don't see - all the things that go on behind the scenes. (WLS)

It's been one of the most successful TV game shows. Last year, TV Guide ranked "Jeopardy!" No. 1 on its list of greatest game shows ever.

DAYTIME LINE-UP: See ABC7's new daytime line-up

For all the fans who watch "Jeopardy!" regularly on TV, we thought you might like to know what you don't see - all the things that go on behind the scenes.

From the control room, veteran announcer Johnny Gilbert's voice is heard as the show is about to tape. Seconds after, we are tossed out - the security and secrecy of show clues, questions and winners is guarded like its Fort Knox.

We did get a shot of the nervous contestants as they are in place, ready to play. However, before this, these contestants have already had a very busy morning.

All the contestants for the day's show learn how to be contestants: when to push that clicker, what camera to look into, stepping onto a riser so diminutive contestants aren't lost behind the "Jeopardy!" desk, tape promotions for their town's local station, and practice, practice, practice.

How did the contestants get here? After online tests and in-person questionnaires are passed, here's how producer Maggie Speak describes the ideal contestants.

"Is there something about how they play the game that makes you want to watch them? There are all different kinds of players," said Speak.

What about those all important clues that fill the "Jeopardy!" board, including 2,990 categories and14,030 clues every year. Who writes them? A staff of eight writers and seven researchers to double-check their facts. Billy Wisse has been the head writer for three years after 21 years on the "Jeopardy!" staff.

"Writers come up with categories, one of two ways. Either you have an idea for a category and fill it out, or come up with an amazing fact and build a category around it," said Wisse.

And arranging the value of the clues?

"As head writer, I do it first. Then we all go over the material together, sometimes the other writers tell me I'm crazy, that the question I put for $2,000 and its only worth $400," said Wisse. "We argue about it, very often chairs are thrown."

When the contestants are ready, the audience is brought in. They get to pass through a hallway - the "Jeopardy!" Hall of Fame - with Alex Trebek's star, like the one on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Johnny Gilbert - starting his 31st season as jeopardy's announcer - is the person who fills in and prepares the audience for the show.

Just about everyone behind the scenes said you can't study to become a top-winning "Jeopardy!" contestant. But if you do become one, it's a good idea to learn all the presidents and vice presidents, in order, and the English monarchs and Shakespeare.

Here are other changes to our daytime line-up you'll see in September: General Hospital will move to 2 p.m., followed by Inside Edition at 3 p.m. and "Jeopardy!" at 3:30 p.m., then ABC7 Eyewitness News at 4 p.m.

On September 15, Rachael Ray will debut on ABC7 at 1 p.m. to join the new lineup.


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