The writing and research staff (eight writers, six researchers) works in offices all surrounding our 10,000-volume library. Many of the books have been with us for a long time (some even date back to the original version of Jeopardy! that aired on NBC from 1964 – 1974), but we’re constantly adding new titles as well. The annual book-buying spree is not the big event that it was pre-Internet, but we still try to keep our physical library current.
Basically, the writers spend their days creating categories, and the researchers spend their days fact-checking those categories. For every fact in every clue, the writer supplies at least one source, and the researcher makes sure that there are at least two sources for each fact by the time the clue is ready. But we don’t just spend our days working individually. Once a game has been assembled out of categories, it is first read by all of the writers, who meet and make changes; after those revisions, it is read by all the researchers, who do the same. At some point in that process, the game is read and critiqued by Harry Friedman, our executive producer.
In addition to making sure the facts are correct, the research process is concerned with ensuring that each clue is “pinned,” i.e., that there is only one possible correct response that the contestant can give, or that if there are correct alternate responses, we’re prepared to accept them.
This applies to non-tape days. On 46 days a year, we are in production, taping five shows a day. First, five games are randomly picked and ordered from a set of six by an outside company. Alex Trebek reads the games from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. At 9:00 there is a tape-day or production meeting that includes Alex, our executive producer, one of our senior producers, a couple of the writers, and the representative from the aforementioned outside company. That finalizes those games, and we’re in the studio from 11:15 a.m to 4:00 p.m.
Who’s Behind the Answers on TV’s Jeopardy?