The Quick 10: This... Is... Jeopardy!

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It is a momentous occasion, fellow_flossers, perhaps one that isn't that important to those who aren't inclined toward somewhat educational trivia. Yes: it's Alex Trebek's birthday. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating about the importance of the day, but what would Jeopardy! be without Trebek's more-than-slightly condescending tone? To acknowledge the birth of everyone's favorite foul-mouthed mouthpiece (more on that in a second), here are a few fascinating facts about the show that made trivia a little less trivial.

trebek 1. Merv Griffin was trying to think of game show ideas while on a flight with his wife Julann. She mentioned that since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, there had really been no simple question-and-answer game shows on T.V. She suggested switching it up and giving the answers instead of the questions. "She fired a couple of answers to me: '5,280' and the question of course was 'How many feet in a mile?'. Another was '79 Wistful Vista.' That was Fibber and Mollie McGee's address," Griffin later said. "I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot."
2. Despite Ken Jennings' impressive run, the highest cumulative amount won by a single contestant belongs to Brad Rutter, a player whose combined totals of his 2002 streak and 2005 "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" streak netted him $3,255,102. Ken Jennings has racked up $ 2,520,700 thus far. Ken does, however, hold the highest one-day total record: $75,000.

3. Merv Griffin wrote the famous (or infamous, depending on how susceptible you are to earworms) theme music himself. When the show was first on the air in the 1960s, the tune was only used for the Final Jeopardy round. It wasn't until Alex Trebek came along that it was used to represent the entire show. The song actually has a name "“ it's called "Time, For Tony," and is named after Merv's son.

4. A few stars who have won Celebrity Jeopardy!: Carol Burnett, Luke Perry, Rosie O'Donnell, Dean Stockwell (Al from Quantum Leap), Stephen King, LeVar Burton, Laura Innes, Isaac Mizrahi, Brett Butler, Alicia Witt, Mark McEwen, Sam Waterston, Chris Hardwick (remember him? He used to host MTV's Singled Out), Benjamin Salisbury, Mike Piazza, Tim Russert, Dee Dee Myers, Andrea Mitchell, Patricia Schroeder, Robin Quivers, Sinbad, Fred Savage, Thomas Gibson, Bob Costas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wallace Langham, Graham Nash, Andy Richter, Nathan Lane, Jon Stewart, Martha Stewart, Eric Idle, Jodie Foster, Peter Krause, Wayne Brady, Hal Sparks, Tucker Carlson, Anderson Cooper, Ari Fleischer, Al Franken, Neil Patrick Harris, Regis Philbin, Harry Shearer and Aisha Tyler. Whew.

5. Three stars who have never been on Celebrity Jeopardy!: Burt Reynolds, Sean Connery and Sharon Osbourne. Trebek and the Jeopardy! crew must have a good sense of humor about the whole thing, though, because the SNL version is occasionally referenced on the real thing, even using some of the categories "misinterpreted" by Sean Connery. In 2001, Double Jeopardy! categories included, "Sean Connery," "Surprise Me, Trebek!," "Therapists," "Things You Shouldn't Put in Your Mouth," "The Number After 2," and "Rhymes with Dog." A 2006 episode played off of another of Connery's misreadings - "Japan-U.S. Relations," which Connery read as "Jap Anus Relations."

6. During Trebek's first season, contestants could buzz in to answer the question as soon as the answer was revealed, giving the advantage to fast readers. After that, it was changed so they had to wait until Trebek finished reading the answer out loud or be penalized.

7. During one episode of the original series, which began in 1964 and featured Art Fleming as the host, all three contestants failed Double Jeopardy! by ending the round with $0 or less. The Final Jeopardy! round was filled by having Fleming chat with the contestants.

8. Just the opposite happened on March 16, 2007. All three contestants ended Final Jeopardy! with the exact same dollar amount - $16,000. They answered the final question correctly and all managed to bet an amount that would even them out. After the show, Jeopardy! execs contacted a Game Theory expert who calculated the odds of such a thing happening at 1 in 25 million. All three contestants returned the next day to face off again, the first time all three contestants had ever returned the next day in the show's history. Let's see if you know the answer to the question they all got right:

The clue: Women of the 1930s
The answer: One of the men who shot her realized when he saw her body that she'd often waited on him at a cafe in Dallas."

9. Many television shows and movies have featured Jeopardy!, as a key plot point. Among them: Mama's Family, Cheers, The Simpsons, The Nanny, White Men Can't Jump, and, of course, Rain Man.

10. Alex Trebek has a pottymouth. This is an old YouTube sensation, so you may have already seen it. There's definitely some language, so watch at your own risk, and don't do it without headphones if you're at work. Unless you have a really cool boss, I guess. By the way, I don't think he's really drunk. But I could be wrong.

Today's pressing Quick 10 Question: Who misses the mustache? C'mon.

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July 22, 2009 - 12:03pm
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