Jeopardy!’s upcoming season is in question amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike.
Several alums who were slated to participate in the game show’s annual “Tournament of Champions” have announced that they will not take part in the competition if the WGA’s strike continues into the fall.
“I am a lifelong devoted fan of Jeopardy!. I am and will always be grateful for the experience I had on the show and the opportunity to participate in the [‘Tournament of Champions’] is beyond a dream come true for me,” LaLonde wrote. “As a supporter of the trade union movement, a union member’s son and a proud union member myself, I have informed the show’s producers that if the strike remains unresolved I will not cross a picket line to play in the tournament of champions.”
LaLonde — who is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) — also stated his belief that “the show’s writers are a vital part of the show” and are “justified” in taking action to “secure a fair contract for themselves and their fellow WGA members.”
The Jeopardy! champion shared his hope that speaking out might “encourage any others in the community who feel the same to speak out as well.” Shortly after LaLonde shared his decision, several other winners pledged to join him.
“I stand with Ray!” six-time champion Troy Meyer commented on the post.
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Nine-game winner Ben Chan chimed in: “Ray, thank you for taking this stand. If you are out, I am out.”
Cris Pannullo and Hannah Wilson, for their part, both alluded to the fact that without writers, the “Tournament of Champions” would rely on old recycled clues.
“I’ll stand with you, Ray! A TOC with all recycled clues doesn’t sound like much fun to play in, anyway,” wrote Wilson.
Pannullo, meanwhile, commented: “As I have already told Ray personally, though like all of us I am a huge Jeopardy! fan and it was a dream to appear on the show, I fully agree with his stance and will not participate in any games comprised of recycled clues while the WGA strike is in effect.”
The comments section of the post also flooded with fans speculating about how the champions’ stance could affect season 40 of Jeopardy!, which is slated to premiere in September.
One Reddit user wrote that they couldn’t “see Jeopardy! taping the toc until the strike is over” after several champions stated they won’t participate otherwise. “I do however think the show will have no problem finding regular people to play the game so the show will go on with no problem there.”
Another fan agreed, writing, “There is no sense holding the tournament without a significant number of the top players. They will likely start the season with regular games and hope the strike resolves relatively quickly.”
Others thanked the champions for their commitment to the WGA’s cause. “So great to see all the champs from my favorite tv show pledge solidarity. You guys all rule!” one commenter wrote.
Hollywood’s writers, including Jeopardy! clue writers, have been on strike since May after failing to reach an agreement for a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Jeopardy! writers Michele Loud, Jim Rhine and Billy Wisse spoke to Variety shortly after the strike took effect.
“Our words are on the screen every night,” Loud told the outlet. “There is no Jeopardy! without writers. Without us, it’s just an empty blue screen.”
Mayim Bialik, for her part — who hosts the trivia show along with Ken Jennings — showed her support for the writers in May, Deadline reported. According to the outlet, Bialik’s absence from the final week of season 39 was the result of her desire to stand in solidarity with writers.
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Earlier this month, the Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) began striking alongside the WGA, marking the first time the two unions have gone on strike together since 1960.