Journalist McNear debuts with a fast-paced and well-researched behind-the-scenes look into one of America’s most popular game shows. Drawing on interviews with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, hundreds of contestants, and the show’s writers and crew, she explores its enduring popularity and strategies for winning. While Jeopardy! appears to require deep knowledge in focused topics, McNear writes, the key to success is “to build a surface-level amount of knowledge about a wide array of subjects.” Suggestions from big winners like James Holhauzer and Ken Jennings include everything from building a Jeopardy! studio simulator at home to sculpting pens and children’s toys into practice buzzers. Buzzer timing, having a strategy for wagering, and choosing clues that might uncover a Daily Double are also important. McNear describes Trebek as a tireless worker who arrives on set early to read the day’s clues, and is funny, sharp, and self-deprecating off-camera. Digging into the mechanics of how the show comes together, McNear notes how games are built using color-coded categories such as academic subjects, pop culture, and wordplay. As Mike Gaberman, a longtime writer for the show, says, “I still can’t wait to see how my categories will play during that day’s shooting.” Game show lovers and aspiring contestants will definitely want to pick this up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Claire McNear does a fantastic job capturing the spirit behind the Jeopardy! production team, fandom, and contestant community. I already knew about a lot of this stuff, and I still couldn't put it down."Brad Rutter, highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant
"Packed with useful advice for aspiring contestants. Read this book and you can lose on Jeopardy!, just like me."James Holzhauer, multiple-time losing contestant
"I'd anticipated that reading a book about Jeopardy! a game show that has been in my life for basically all of it would make me feel a certain amount of nostalgia, and a certain amount of warm joy. I had not, however, anticipated how sentimental parts of it would make me feel, and how loudly other parts of it would make me laugh. Claire has built something really great here. I wish I could read this book again for the first time."Shea Serrano, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Movies (And Other Things)
"McNear lifts up the hood on Jeopardy! and shows us the inner workings, from quirky contestants and fans to details about the buzzer. I saw so many parallels to the Scripps National Spelling Bee too, from intensive and creative studying strategies through the decades to the balance between the live audience and the home audience. If you like Jeopardy! I highly R-E-C-O-M-M-E-N-D this book."Dr. Jacques Bailly, official pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee
"Put this in your potpourri: Claire McNear has delivered a treasure. ANSWERS IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS is a smart and sassy journey into the wide, wide world of Jeopardy! a must for anyone who's ever shouted out to Alex from the edge of their couch."James Andrew Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Live from New York and Those Guys Have All the Fun
"Journalist McNear debuts with a fast-paced and well-researched behind-the scenes look into one of America's most popular game shows. Game show lovers and aspiring contestants will definitely want to pick this up."Publishers Weekly
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Bloom offers burst-out-loud-laughing personal essays that explore feeling uncomfortably different from others and finally realizing that she's not (200,000-copy first printing). Back to the Future Fox focuses on issues of hope, fear, toughness, and being realistic as he explains his struggles with Parkinson's and spinal-cord surgery that led to his learning to walk again in No Time Like the Future (350,00-copy first printing). What long-running TV show, now moving from strictly syndication to streaming, is the subject of McNear's Answers in the Form of Questions (60,000-copy first printing)? From Maerz, founding editor of New York magazine's Vulture website, Alright, Alright, Alright shows how Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused proved to be an unexpected success and the making of stars like Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, and Ben Affleck (75,000-copy first printing). And New York Post theater columnist Riedel ranges from Jonathan Larsen's Rent to Disney's The Lion King as he portrays recent Midas-touched Broadway theater in Singular Sensation (100,000-copy first printing).
A guide to the popular game show.
Ringer columnist McNear’s first book is an entertaining general overview of the popular “beacon of television stability.” All-time Jeopardy!champion Ken Jennings notes in his foreword that the show has “been performed over eight thousand times…for the last three and a half decades.” After the debacle of the rigged Twenty-One show in the 1950s, writes the author, “knowledge-based game shows understandably faltered.” With its unique approach to the genre, the original version of Jeopardy! premiered in 1964 in a midday slot, with actor Art Fleming as host and Don Pardo as announcer; it ran for 12 years. Merv Griffin—who also wrote the show’s theme music—brought it back in 1984, with Alex Trebek as host, partly because of Weird Al Jankovic’s popular song, “I Lost on Jeopardy!” With behind-the-scenes access, McNear followed a group of hopeful contestants preparing for their show appearances, and she chronicles her interviews with past contestants and show staff. Trivia, no surprise, abounds. Fifteen staffers create 16,790 clues each season. Contestants cannot wager $69 or $666. After the show’s five-game limit was lifted, “cultural phenomenon” Jennings’ unbeaten streak lasted six months, winning him $2,520,700. “Every year,” writes the author, “about eighty thousand people take the annual online Jeopardy!contestant test,” and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the “most successful contestants in the history of Celebrity Jeopardy!” McNear also delves into “clue selection” and wagering strategies and the secrets of how to increase buzzer speed. Numerous sidebars throughout the text examine topics like “Contestant Skulduggery” and the famous 2011 match between past uber-champions Brad Rutter and Jennings vs. IBM’s Watson. She also discusses in funny detail the show’s impact on popular culture—and its popularity continues. The 2020 Greatest of All Time tournament “topped the viewership for nearly all television programming in the previous year.” Jeopardy! devotees will want to pair this with Trebek’s recent memoir.
Good reading for those who can’t get enough of the TV “juggernaut."