Jeopardy! Set to Return with Updated Coronavirus Guidelines and New Role for Champ Ken Jennings
Jeopardy! fans, rejoice!
The hit televised game show series is returning for its 37th season on Monday, Sept. 14.
The ever-popular ABC series resumed production amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic earlier this summer, with new changes in place, according to a press release. The changes include enhanced social distancing guidelines between host Alex Trebek and the show's contestants, as well as a new role for Jeopardy! powerhouse contestant Ken Jennings.
When the show returns, viewers will notice a new and updated take on the show's set, with a revamped stage that now allows for more space between the three contestant podiums and Trebek's lectern. Additionally, production has protocols in place in accordance with current government guidelines to protect contestants, staff, crew, and talent from the spread of COVID-19.
"I feel good, and I feel excited because once again Jeopardy! has demonstrated that it’s at the forefront of television programming," Trebek, 80, said in a statement. "I believe we are the first quiz show to come back on the air in the COVID-19 era."
He added, "On a personal level, I’m excited because it gets me out of the house. It gives me something to do on a regular basis, and I was missing that."
Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards echoed Trebek's statements, saying, "I think the world needs something to be happy about. So when the greatest quiz show of all time starts airing new episodes, then they can take a deep breath and say 'Oh, it’s Jeopardy! It’s the same great show, and it’s even better.' "
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Recently crowned Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. player and 74-time champion Jennings, 46, is also joining the show, where he will serve as a consulting producer this season.
In his new role, Jennings will present his own special video categories, develop projects, assist with contestant outreach and serve as a general ambassador for the show, according to the release.
"Though, I've played my last round of Jeopardy! as a contestant, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to remain involved with my favorite show," Jennings said. "I’m still in on all the action, but I don’t have to worry about phrasing things in the form of a question anymore."
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Earlier this year, a studio spokesperson told PEOPLE that Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! were returning to the studio to tape episodes for the shows’ upcoming seasons.
"The productions have protocols in place in accordance with current government guidelines to protect contestants, staff, crew, and talent from the spread of COVID-19," they shared. "While some things may have changed behind the scenes and on the set to keep everyone safe, fans can expect to see the same Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! they have come to love when the season starts."
Like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune will also feature a redesigned set, including a new wheel to ensure that contestants are six feet apart.
Contestants will also reportedly be tested for COVID-19 before coming into the studio, and staff and crew will be tested regularly. Additionally, everyone off-camera will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).