Monday November 12, 2018

J.B. Smoove offers a first look at season 10 of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

More Homecoming fodder.

The easter eggs in The Good Place are phenomenal.

I’m enjoying Bodyguard on Netflix if you’re looking for a new show to watch.

I’m laboring to get through the final season of House of Cards.

Also loving Patriot Act on Netflix. Go watch the Amazon episode now.

NatGeo premieres season 2 of Mars tonight.

Yes, you did hear the walkers speak last night on The Walking Dead.

Did Mark Hamill do a secret Walking Dead cameo?

About that YOU finale last night. I quit after 3 episodes.

Here’s your list of People’s Choice Award winners from last night.

Johnny Galecki showed up to the awards show with his 21 year-old girlfriend.

This is inevitably coming our way soon. “British commercial television network Channel 5 is prepping a six-part gardening competition series from London-based TV prodco Crackit Productions. The Great Garden Challenge (w/t), features eight teams in head-to-head competition vying to win the title of Great Garden Challenge Champion and the opportunity to exhibit their garden at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley. In the first four episodes, the contestants compete in heats with two pairs of professional garden designers facing off to transform identically sized spaces while on a strict budget and a 48-hour deadline. At the end of each heat episode, both spaces are visited by the shows judges, Carol Klein and Mark Gregory, who assess the gardens according to Royal Horticultural Society criteria for a good garden, which includes the design and how they’ve planned the space, as well as construction and landscaping, and more. Four winning pairs from the heats go through to the semi-finals before moving into the grand final. In the final episode, the remaining two pairs of garden designers will be tasked with creating a show garden for the RHS’s flagship site, Garden Wisley in Surrey. Wisley’s curator, Matthew Pottage, will guest judge and help crown Britain’s Best Garden Challenge champions.”

What the cast of Lost looks like today.

MTV has acquired SnowGlobe Music Festival, the annual three-day December gathering held in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., with plans to expand the brand as a music and lifestyle event and to help freshen up the cabler’s New Year’s Eve programming. The deal is in keeping with Viacom’s goal of growing its activity in live events. SnowGlobe draws about 20,000 attendees in the three days leading up to New Year’s Eve with an event that mixes musical acts, extreme winter sports and art installations. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. MTV intends to expand the festival to other dates and locations around the world. The scene at SnowGlobe will be highlighted as a big part of MTV’s New Year’s Eve programming this year.”


Per USA Today, “During Friday's episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Chip and Joanna Gaines revealed they're partnering with HGTV parent Discovery on a new network.  

“The new channel, expected to start in the next 12 to 18 months, will be called the Magnolia Network, named for Chip and Joanna's design and decor company. The couple will own a minority stake. The channel is expected to replace an existing, underperforming Discovery network, most likely DIY, Destination America or Great American Country, said a person familiar with Discovery plans who was unauthorized to speak publicly. 

"‘We signed a non-disclosure and it said, quote unquote, you can tell your mother, but that’s it,’ Chip joked. ‘So mom, I just wanted to make a quick announcement, we are coming back to television. You are going to get to see the kids grow up, you are going to see us, well maybe a six-month delay like the rest of the world, but we are excited to be back.’

“Arguably the biggest stars of HGTV, the couple quit their show (and TV) last fall, but have been aggressively courted since then by Netflix, which formerly aired reruns of the show. Chip added the five-year process of being on HGTV's Fixer Upper helped the couple learn how to solve some of the problems they came across in their next venture.

"‘So we actually partnered with (CEO) David Zaslav and Discovery, we're actually going to have a network, and I think we're going to really carve it out in a way that makes sense to us and our family,’ he revealed. ‘It's going to be filmed a lot in Waco, Texas, so we don't have to travel a whole lot. So with all things being equal, we're really excited.’

"‘Discovery is thrilled to confirm that we are in exclusive talks with Chip and Joanna Gaines,’ the company confirmed in a statement Saturday. ‘The Gaineses are exceptional people, true authentic storytellers and creative visionaries who will nourish millions of people with quality, family-friendly programming accessible on a 24/7 network and across all screens.’

Magnolia also confirmed the news in a statement to People.

“‘We’re excited to share that we are currently in the early stages of talking with Discovery about a lifestyle-focused media network for Magnolia,’ Magnolia spokesman John Marsicano said. ‘The details surrounding this opportunity remain a work in progress, but together, our hope is to build a different kind of platform for unique, inspiring and family-friendly content.’

“Discovery last partnered with Oprah Winfrey on a TV network, which began as a joint venture but is now 70% owned by the media company.”

All I can say is that I knew they had something in the works, not this. And it make me quite nauseous


From Vulture: “Most people who know Scott Rogowsky lovingly refer to him as the Quiz Daddy, the breakout star of the app HQ Trivia, which became a sensation soon after its launch in 2017. But as comedy fans know, Rogowsky has been doing his late-night talk show Running Late With Scott Rogowsky for years, bouncing around various New York City comedy venues since its inception in 2011. As part of this year’s New York Comedy Festival, Rogowsky hosted a late-night edition of the show at the Team Coco House on Friday evening, wearing, in a cute touch, a jacket and tie inspired by the opening credits of HQ. But Rogowsky’s real passion is hosting a traditional talk show — the kind with a live band, monologue, field pieces, characters, and interviews. All of those things were at play last night, when Last Week Tonight host John Oliver appeared as Rogowsky’s guest. Taking a page from the HBO show’s segments, Rogowsky devoted 40 minutes to his interview with Oliver, and here are some tidbits we learned about Oliver in process:

On why he came to the U.S.: “In 2009, I will say in my defense, this was a different country, going in a different direction. Listen, when I got on this horse, it was galloping majestically, Seabiscuit-style. I didn’t realize it was gonna take a hard right turn to the glue factory.”

On posters for Last Week Tonight: “Each year, it’s been fun to come up with an image that my face is not in, because I don’t really like the ephemera of being on TV very much. I have to put these things on buses, so the last two years, I’ve been hiding behind the desk and then with my head on the desk, and the justification for it has been a joke, but really it’s just I don’t want to be there.”

On whether satire is working today: “Well, it depends what you think its job is. If you’re in the Weimar Cabaret back in 1930s Germany, it depends if you thought, ‘My job is to stop fascism,’ that’s an overwhelming failure. Spoiler alert, if you haven’t gotten to that part of 20th century history. What we see our job as is to try to make a rigorous, factually solid, interesting, funny show. So in terms of the reverberations, we pay literally no attention to that whatsoever. We don’t factor it into anything.”

On choosing the stories for his show: “I think we can sometimes be an amplifier on issues that aren’t getting looked at. That is the kind of privilege of a having a show like this, is that you can look at unaddressed stories and give, especially in the moment, really, in the last couple of years, where this administration tends to cannibalize everything … We’ve had to protect the main body of our show, because there’s so much low-hanging fruit around, you can kind of gorge yourself on that and forget that there are other things going on in the world, so we try and make sure that the vast majority of our main stories are not centered around the president … You want to make sure that, if you’re gonna talk to people about something for 20, 30, sometimes 35 minutes, one story, you want to make sure that at the end you have some sense of a solution, however small, even if it’s a solution to just a small part of the problem.”

On his safety during the recent mail bombs“The bombs were still getting sent out, he hadn’t got caught, the guy, and I was walking between my office and home. Two separate people — this on like a ten-minute walk to a car — two separate people said, ‘Have you got one yet?’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Have you got one? I bet you’re on the list.’ We’re talking about an actual bomb!”

On the show’s animal mascots“I love a mascot. Tim Carvell, who runs the show, he and I are big fans of the Muppets, and basically we’re just trying to make a Muppet show and failing.”

On the show’s mascot costumes: “We used to just have them in this one room, but then kids occasionally would come in, and it was just a room basically full of decapitated mascots. And it was after the third kid cried, we thought, ‘Let’s put these somewhere else.’”

On topics he hasn’t covered on the show: “Yes, there’s loads of topics that either we couldn’t find a way in or that the story had shifted or it had been slightly misreported, so the most tantalizing parts of it weren’t true or it had shifted because a solution is underway. You don’t know if it works yet.””


From Vulture: “Alex Trebek, dressed in a chambray shirt and blue jeans, walks into the plushly carpeted, book-lined study of his rambling Los Angeles home and plops down in an easy chair, draping a leg over an armrest. ‘People ask me,’ he says, ‘Who would you like to replace you?’ He shrugs. ‘The decision will be out of my hands.’ After 35 years as the host of Jeopardy! it’s hard to imagine that the 78-year-old Trebek, who caused fans’ hearts to skip a beat earlier this year when he suggested he might retire in 2020, won’t have a say in who eventually takes his place behind the lectern. It’s even harder to imagine Jeopardy! without him — for us anyway. ‘It’s a good show,’ says Trebek. ‘It should, and will, go on after I’m done.’

There are people watching  Jeopardy! who assume that you already know all the facts being presented — even though the show actually doesn’t provide evidence for that. Does knowing what qualities viewers project onto you give you any insight into the public’s relationship with television?
Whoa. Okay, let’s start there. I’ve learned that people draw conclusions that satisfy their prejudices, and those conclusions don’t always coincide with reality. People think because I’m the host of a fairly serious, intelligence-based quiz show that I must know all the answers. I do — because they’re written on a sheet of paper in front of me. And audiences are always surprised when they discover that I like to fix things around the house, that I’m not a nerdy person who spends all his time researching information that might come in handy on Jeopardy!. But I don’t mind surprising people in that way.

At least it’s a relatively benign surprise.
Yeah. You know, when the #MeToo movement started, I had discussions with the staff during production meetings. I said, “My gosh, this has got to be a scary time for men.” I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a position of power where I might be able to lord it over somebody sexually. I said, “But there are guys out there — young guys are stupid in their teens.” There’s nothing stupider than a teenage boy. They’re operating on testosterone.

You were single in Hollywood in the ’80s. Do you remember the gender dynamics as being markedly different back then?
I was not a player. I dated not that often. I was a shy, small-town Canadian kid.A naturalized American citizen since 1998, Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, to George Trebek and Lucille Lagacé. Aside from being Trebek’s hometown, Sudbury is well-known, in Canada anyway, for being a nickel-mining center. A friend of mine, Alan Hamel, who is married to Suzanne Somers, had come to California before I did, and I always thought, He fits right into this society. I never felt like I belonged.

When did you start to fit in?
When I had someone older guiding me. There was a man named Richard Gully, who had been a publicist for Jack Warner. We met, and because he threw a lot of dinner parties at the Bistro, an “in” restaurant in Beverly Hills at the time, he often needed single guys to fill out the table. So Richard would invite me, and his being there to introduce me to people made me comfortable. And Burt Sugarman, who produced the very first show that I hosted here, The Wizard of Odds,This game show, which ran from 1973 to 1974 on NBC, was Trebek’s first American hosting gig. He later hosted High Rollers (1974 to 1976, and again from 1978 to 1980), and Classic Concentration (1987 to 1991, concurrently with Jeopardy!). Before that Trebek had a successful career as a host for the CBC in his native Canada. introduced me to the backgammon-playing community. I met people that way; I didn’t have to go out on my own. And once I’d achieved a certain degree of popularity, I would play in celebrity golf tournaments and meet stars. Frank Sinatra told me he was a fan of the show. Jimmy Stewart, too. I thought, Oh my gosh. These major stars watch me on occasion. I felt good about that.

What about fitting into the role of Jeopardy! host? Is there an art to that?
Yes. You have to set your ego aside. The stars of the show are the contestants and the game itself. That’s why I’ve always insisted that I be introduced as the host and not the star. And if you want to be a good host, you have to figure a way to get the contestants to — as in the old television commercial about the military — “be all you can be.” Because if they do well, the show does well. And if the show does well, by association I do well.

When you say you want the contestants to be all they can be, does that ever extend to trying to influence them to bet big on Daily Doubles? It sometimes seems as if you do. And you can also seem disappointed when contestants wager conservatively.
I have been disappointed when contestants made conservative wagers because they don’t realize the obvious. And that is, if a clue is in the second box from the top, it’s going to be easier than a clue at the bottom of the category. So if you’ve landed on what should be an easier Daily Double clue, why not take a chance? But I try not to influence contestants’ wagers. I do joke about it. You’ll hear me say things like, “You made it a true Daily Double in the first round when you only had a $1,000. Now that you’ve got $13,000, I’m sure you’ll want to make it another true Daily Double.” But I’m not seriously suggesting they make that wager.

What about your tone when contestants whiff on what you clearly think are easy clues? There was a game earlier this year when none of the contestants knew anything about football, and you conveyed this beautifully subtle, slightly pedantic air of disappointment.
Oh, that got a lot of play. I had fun with it. The last clue in the category had to do with the Minnesota Vikings.Here was the clue: “The defensive line that took the Vikings to four Super Bowls.” The correct response: Who are the Purple People Eaters? I looked at the players and said, “If you guys ring in and get this one, I will die.” The gaps in people’s knowledge never cease to amaze me. And on occasion, all three players have the same gap. But football? America’s game?

In those moments, how intentional is the “You’ve disappointed father” tone you take with contestants? Are you consciously playing a role there?
Yes, it’s conscious. Not that it’s preplanned — it’s a reaction — but I know that “You’ve disappointed daddy” is a tone I’m striking. It’s also, “How can you not get this? This is not rocket science.”

There’s thinking out there that bouncing around the board is strategically advantageous.
That strategy started with Chuck Forrest.

The famous Forrest Bounce. In 1985, during Jeopardy!’s second season, contestant Chuck Forrest deployed the strategy of randomly jumping from clue to clue rather than moving sequentially, as most players do. The idea is that the helter-skelter game-play confuses opponents and thus enables greater control of the board. The strategy worked well for Forrest, a five-time Jeopardy! champion and the winner of the 1986 Tournament of Champions.
That’s right. He jumped all over the board in an obvious attempt to throw off his opponents. It worked. They never adjusted. But, you may remember, Chuck didn’t win the championship that year. So go figure.

Is there a formula for success on Jeopardy!?
Yeah, know the material.

What’s the part of your job that feels the most like a grind?
Nothing really.

Lucky man.
Yes, lucky me. I have to work, but it’s work I enjoy and that still has challenges. I have at least two new players on each program and all new material that I’ve got to read properly. As I’ve gotten older I realize, as professional athletes do, that the difficult thing is not losing your physical skills. It’s losing your ability to concentrate. I remember the old all-star guard for the Green Bay Packers —

Jerry Kramer?
Yes, David, Jerry Kramer. He said something like, “The adrenaline will flow and you’ll physically gear up for the play, but the hard part is thinking, with split-second timing, Wait a minute, who do I block here?” It’s the same with Jeopardy!. We have a clue every 10, 12 seconds. I can’t dwell on the one I screwed up; I have to dwell on the next one. Interestingly, the lady who handles the keyboard backstage in the computer room — she presses the button that reveals the clue that the contestant has selected — she never used to make a mistake. She’s been on the show for over 30 years, and in recent years age has made an impression. A contestant will say, “I’ll take Geography for $600,” and you’re ready to go to the $800 clue next. But if the contestant instead skips ahead to the $1,000 — it’s hard to maintain concentration when you’ve done something so repetitive for so many years.

What about dealing with off-camera crap? I’m thinking of a flare-up I read about a few years back when the mother of a contestant on Jeopardy! Kids complained that you’d been rude to her daughter after she lost. And the producers asked you to reshoot or apologize, and you told them that you were frustrated because you’d always defended the show against its attackers and now you expected the show to defend you. I didn’t realize that Jeopardy! gets attacked. For what?
I’ve been criticized for treating women more harshly than men. I’ve also been criticized for treating women better than men. In fact, I remember looking in a stack of letters once and finding two: One said, “Boy, you fawn over women [contestants] and try to help them out.” And the other was, “Boy, you’re mean to women.”

What accounts for that discrepancy?
A viewer’s reaction is dependent on their biases in everyday life. If they think that women are put upon unfairly, they’re going to watch the program and if they see anything that they believe satisfies their bias, it becomes their reality: “I always suspected you were nasty and now you’ve confirmed it!” But one reason why a host can succeed for a long time is by not offending. You saw it with Johnny Carson. He was bright enough to cover almost any potentially offensive moment with his wit. That’s one of the things, unfortunately, that we lack in politics today. There isn’t enough humor.

There’s a lot of humor. President Trump makes jokes all the time, and his critics make jokes about him all the time. Isn’t the issue more that the tenor of the jokes has gotten nastier?
I wouldn’t say that he [President Trump] makes jokes. He picks on people. I think back to George W. Bush, who had a good sense of self-deprecating humor. Now, some would say, “He should have been self-deprecating because he was worthy of self-deprecation.” But I wouldn’t agree with that necessarily. Obama also had a good sense of humor, with a pretty sharp edge. Reagan had a good sense of humor, and not a mean-spirited one. But pity the fool who comes up with a funny line now. We are so polarized that he or she is only going to be savaged for it.

Have you met President Trump? Or Prime Minister Trudeau?
I have not met Donald Trump. I’ve met Trudeau. I spent almost an hour with him in Ottawa. I’m keenly aware of little nuances, and I noticed at one point, after about 45 minutes, that Justin did something like this [scratches under his shirt], and about ten seconds later, there was a knock on the door and one of his assistants came in and said, “Mr. Prime Minister, you have a meeting.”

I don’t follow.
He has a buzzer under his shirt that he can use to signal his assistants when it’s time to come and get him. But Trudeau did say to me, “Count me in if you ever do a celebrity tournament featuring world political leaders.” I said, “I can’t think of anybody who would want to take you on.”

How would President Trump do on Jeopardy!?
He might not agree that any of the correct responses are correct.

How about Jeopardy! in the wider context of the culture? This is a show that explicitly rewards knowledge. Does the country hold knowledge and learning in the same esteem that it did when you started on the show in 1984?Trebek was preceded as Jeopardy! host by Art Fleming, who handled duties from 1964 to 1975, and again from 1978 to 1979. Trebek took over in 1984 when the show reappeared in a syndicated version.
I mentioned something about this on the air not too long ago. Basically, what I said was that you never have to apologize for acquiring knowledge, even if it’s not going to be of immediate benefit. Having knowledge makes you better able to understand the world in which we live. The more I know, the less surprised I’m going to be. There are precedents, and most people won’t understand them. They might say, “What a mean son of a bitch that person is” — without realizing the person is mean because they were attacked beforehand.

Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about?
How many times do we hear about killers? Something like 90 percent of murderers were abused as children. You don’t become a nasty human from birth. Something occurs early in your life to change you. But my point is that you want to be open to new knowledge.

Do you watch a lot of Fox News?
I used to. Now, for news I’ll probably watch CNN or ABC. Politics now are like the days of the O.J. Simpson trial — it’s all we do every day. I was talking to a friend of mine recently about the Khashoggi investigation. I said, “Trump is letting it slide a bit.” And my friend’s response was, “Well, who ever investigated Benghazi?” He went from Khashoggi to Benghazi. I was going to say to him that there were extensive investigations on Benghazi, but he kept taking it back to Hillary Clinton. I’ve joked about this kind of thing with my wife.Jean Currivan-Trebek. She and Alex married in 1990, and have two children, Matthew and Emily. Prior to that Mr. Trebek was married to Elaine Callei from 1974 to 1981. I said, “I don’t think Sean Hannity can do a program without mentioning Hillary Clinton. I don’t think it’s possible.”

Do you have any sort of relationship with Pat Sajak? I think of you and him as the two iconic game-show hosts that are still going.
Look, we’re friends, but we don’t socialize. We’ve never discussed politics. I know where he stands. I don’t think he knows where I stand.

Is there a difference between the kind of person who loves Wheel of Fortune and the kind who loves Jeopardy!?
Yes, there’s a lot more excitement with Wheel of Fortune because luck plays a much greater role — there’s the spin of the wheel. On Jeopardy! it’s all what you know. People relate more positively to the element of luck. They’re a little intimidated by Jeopardy!.

Pat Sajak and you are part of the tiny number of human beings who know what it’s like to spend a lifetime hosting a game show. Do you ever have a desire to talk shop with other hosts?
No. We game-show hosts are in the same business, but we all handle our jobs differently. The danger for viewers when they look at game-show hosts is to regard them in a narrow way. Peter Marshall is a singer, a television performer, and he hosts programs. Wink Martindale expanded his career beyond hosting game shows. I interviewed all of these guys in a documentary called Game Changers that I’m not sure if you saw. And there are guys like — I’ve lost who I was thinking of.

Chuck Woolery?

Drew Carey?

Bob Barker?

Monty Hall?
No. I’m thinking of the one who brought the Beatles to the United States.I figured it out later: Trebek was talking about Bob Eubanks, the original host of The Newlywed Game. Eubanks was also active in the music business, producing the Beatles’s performances at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965. If you’re interested, the 2016 remastered edition of the band’s 1964 concert at the aforementioned venue is easily the Beatles’s best officially released live album.

Are there things about you or your career that deserve more appreciation?
Nothing I need anyone to know about. As I said earlier, I like to fix things around the house. A week ago I took a gas leaf blower up to our place at Lake Nacimiento to blow leaves and pine needles off the driveway, and it didn’t work. I was ticked. So I brought the blower back here and took it apart: Oh, there’s a tube that became detached. I put it back together and it worked, but only for a few minutes: There’s something fundamentally wrong. Then yesterday afternoon I got it working properly. That’s what gives me pleasure: fixing things.

Can you tell me something interesting about Johnny Gilbert? Jeopardy! announcer since 1984. He’s the one you hear saying “This. Is. Jeopardy!.”
Johnny Gilbert is 117 years old.

Here I thought he was a sprightly 94.
Johnny and I have been together for 35 years. We get along. We don’t socialize. Our relationship has lasted longer than either one of our marriages.

How much does your job give your life meaning? I get the sense you’re looking elsewhere.
The meaning I get from my job is that it has provided me with opportunities to explore the world geographically, socially, and philanthropically. Doing that has allowed me to develop as a human. Now, Reader’s Digest did put out a list of the most trusted people in America, and I dropped in somewhere in the top ten.

You were No. 8. Between Bill and Melinda Gates.
Yes, he was ahead of me and she was behind me. To be trusted in that way by the general populace, to me that’s important.

But doesn’t something like that just confirm that viewers’ opinions are almost totally arbitrary? No one who watches Jeopardy! really knows anything about you.
But it becomes about having a concordance between the way you are and the way you appear to the public. I feel at peace with that. I live a quiet life. I was never part of the Hollywood social scene. I don’t do drugs.

Was drinking ever an issue? You joke about it a fair bit.
I joke about that with audiences at the studio because it always gets a laugh. People say, “How do you prepare for the show?” “I drink.” Laugh. On another day it’ll be, “When you stop hosting the show, what are you going to do?” “I’m gonna drink.” Laugh.

Earlier this year you said there was a slightly better than 50 percent chance that you’d retire after your contract was up. How are you feeling about retirement today?
Hard to say.Not anymore. Shortly after Trebek and I spoke, Sony Pictures Television announced that he had renewed his contract through the 2021/2022 season. I got a lot of publicity when I mentioned that to [TMZ’s] Harvey Levin, but, pardon me, I look at the show and think, I’m pretty good. So either our director is saving my ass through judicious editing or I’m not as bad as I sometimes think I am.

Do you have a vision for your last show?
If I do, it’s that I will tell the director, “Time the show so that I have 30 seconds at the end.” Because when Ken Jennings lost after 74 wins in a row, I had a tear in my eye and no time for a good-bye. So all I want on my last show is 30 seconds, and I’ll do what Johnny Carson did: “Hey, folks, thank you. Been a good run and all good things must come to an end.” Then I’ll move on.

What’s your opinion on the current state of game shows?
In this day and age, when there is so much societal tension, game shows are valuable because they’re pleasant. If you want to compare them to court shows, those are always about conflict — it’s nastiness. And I think in today’s society we feel a need to get away from nastiness.

Ever play HQ Trivia?
I haven’t.

I’ve also heard you say, in talking about other ways your career might have gone, that you were hypothetically interested in hosting a talk show. Who would be your dream guest?
People used to ask me, “Who would your dream Jeopardy! contestant be?” I used to say Kevin Spacey. He’s bright, and there would be so many funny moments because of all his great impressions. But now you can’t say that. So to answer your question: the pope. I was raised Catholic.

What are you reading these days?
The Russia Hoax by Gregg Jarrett. I’m only up to page 49, but he’s so biased in his approach. James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty; Amy Siskind’s The List. I just finished The Apprentice, Greg Miller. I started Michael McFaul’s book, From Cold War to Hot Peace. I read a little of everything. Talking to My Daughter About the Economy. That was a fun one. The Brontës — all about that marvelous family.

What’s the point of making contestants phrase responses in the form of a question? How does that make the game any better than if they answered normally?
I don’t know that it makes it better. The impetus for doing that was a reaction to the game-show scandals of the 1950s. Merv [Griffin]The late show-business impresario and talk-show host created both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Griffin also composed the famous ticktock theme music that plays as contestants contemplate their answers during Final Jeopardy!. was trying to come up with an idea for a game show, and his wife said, “Why don’t we give the contestants the answers?” He said, “That’s how people got in trouble with the Feds!” She said, “No. The answer is 5,280; the question is how many feet in a mile?” Ding! That difference makes Jeopardy! unique. The host — me — used to be unique by having a mustache. I no longer have it, although I like to play around with my facial hair. At the beginning of this season I had the full beard, and that came down to a Van Dyke, and then a mustache, and now I’m clean-shaven.

This interview has been edited and condensed


From TheWrap: “Krystina Edwards Nagle lost her husband in September from complications during surgery, when he was only 48. She can’t exactly describe how it felt to go through his books, his clothes, his prized watch collection.

“But in Facebook Watch’s Sorry for Your Loss, she has found a show that comes close to capturing how she feels. Sorry for Your Loss stars Elizabeth Olsen as Leigh Shaw, a young widow coping with the recent death of her husband, Matt. In one scene, she goes through his clothes, just like Edwards Nagle had to do.

“‘When people think about losing a spouse and being a widow, it’s when you’re older. That was kind of the first thing that hit me,’ Edwards Nagle said. ‘And [Leigh] lost her husband so unexpectedly. It was quick, it was sudden, and it was a surprise. So that hit me as well, because that was the kind of thing I went through with my husband.’

“Because the show is on Facebook, viewers are surrounded by others going through the same feelings they are.  Social media can seem heartless, a way for strangers to fight and belittle one another. But the comments page for Sorry for Your Loss is different.

“The people who log in to share their feelings include widows, widowers — and anyone who has lost someone they love. That reaction was striking for both showrunner Lizzy Weiss and creator Kit Steinkellner.

“‘I’ve never seen a community like this formed from a show,’ Weiss said. ‘That’s what’s so incredible about the power of the show, Facebook and grief altogether, is that a community has found each other online.’

“After seeing the pilot, which opens with Leigh talking to her grief group, one commenter said he had started going to his own meetings to work through the pain of losing his wife. Until the show, he ‘didn’t even know grief groups were a thing,’ Steinkellner recalled him saying.

“‘It’s helped me so much, I felt so alone. And now that I know about this and participate in this group, it’s going to change my life,’ the man added.

“‘That was an amazing note,’ Steinkellner said.

“Edwards Nagle said the show caught the attention of ‘everybody’ at her weekly grief group meetings, quickly becoming one of their favorite topics to bond over.

“For many other viewers TheWrap spoke with, though, Sorry For Your Loss is a more intimate experience.

“Demi Rodgers, a 25-year-old widow from Texas, said the show has been cathartic — a show that reflected the ‘what the hell do I do now?’ stage of her life, as she put it — but something she prefers to watch privately.

“‘It’s kind of hard for widows to reach out to each other because it’s a sensitive subject that we understand is sensitive,’ Rodgers said. ‘We do want to connect with others, but we also don’t want to overstep that boundary and be disrespectful or inconsiderate of where they’re at in their own journey.’

“Jessica Finocchio, 44, lost her husband less than six months ago. After finding the show a few weeks ago, she watched all ten episodes in two days. Finocchio echoed Rodgers, saying the show was too personal to discuss with other widows, because it’s a pain you ‘can’t even explain.’

“But she’s thankful the show exists, believing the journey Leigh goes through mirrors the same one she’s on right now. ‘When I found it, I couldn’t believe it. It’s like my life,’ Finocchio said.

“Plenty of people feel the same way. Sorry For Your Loss had 5.4 million viewers in its first season, making it one of the year-old Facebook Watch’s most successful shows.

“Naomi Tapia, a 23-year-old graduate student from Orange County, California, said the show highlights the ‘little things’ that come with the mourning process. She lost her mother last year.

“‘The first episode got me,’ Tapia told TheWrap. ‘When [Leigh] said “everyone just kind of moves on because it’s over for them.” People stop calling, stop texting, because they’re past that point, they’re past that initial shock. And don’t realize that for us, it’s an ongoing thing, because we have to learn to live in this new world where something was taken.’

“Tapia also credited the show for touching on death — a taboo subject for most TV shows.

“‘I think people are excited that a show is finally portraying something people are so scared to talk about. Because society doesn’t want to talk about these dark things that happen,’ she said.

“Scott Ayers, a fan of the show from New York, struck a similar note. ‘In our society, grief and coping with the loss of a loved one seems to be closed off for discussion, and this shows ignites a conversation on the topic. It’s powerful.’

“Several viewers noted the realistic timeline of Sorry For Your Loss. The grieving process, when usually shown on TV, is truncated. Characters snap back quickly.

“Leigh doesn’t. She struggles. She gives up her career and moves in with her mother and sister. She goes to meetings with other widows.

“The show uses flashbacks of Matt to underscore Leigh’s sense of loss. There are scenes where Leigh breaks dishes in anger — and also scenes where she’s capable, if only for a moment or two, to enjoy life.

“‘It’s funny, because I’m not sitting there watching it and crying the whole time. Because there are moments that are really fun. And that hits me, because she’s able to get back to work and hang out with her friends,’ Edwards Nagle said. ‘It’s a balance. You just don’t know how you’re going to move on. There are sometimes that you’re almost able to feel normal again, and that’s another thing the show portrays really well.’

“That ‘rollercoaster’ of emotions, as Rodgers put it, is something widows and others grievers know all too well. Sorry For Your Loss, by highlighting both the pain and the occasional flickers of happiness that comes with losing a loved one, has attracted viewers who never expected to see their experience captured on television.

“‘It’s a show that finally gives us a voice,’ Tapia said.”