Monday, November 9, 1998 was the first of my two appearances on the TV game show JEOPARDY! I wrote about this at TREMENDOUS length when I first started blogging in 2005: Parts 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 and 11.
I’ll try an abridged version here.
I took a mini-test in Albany in late April 1998, passed it, and was supposed to take a bus to Boston on May 14 to take the REAL test. But I had a NON-REFUNDABLE train ticket to visit Detroit and Cleveland that week.
I called WTEN, the local affiliate that carries the show, who gave me the number of Susanne Thurber, the “talent coordinator” for JEOPARDY!, in Los Angeles. She informed me about tests in Washington, DC the following week.
In DC, I went to a hotel conference room, where 45 or 50 people were seated for the test. We wrote the responses (no, they didn’t have to be in a form of a question) on a sheet of paper. There would be 50 questions in 50 categories.
Eight of us passed the test. We played a few mock games, complete with a buzzer. You don’t click once, you click repeatedly until someone’s name is called.
Thursday, August 13, I’m sitting at work, when our secretary buzzes my phone. “It’s JEOPARDY!” The next thing I hear is: “Roger Green? ” “Yes?” “I’m Grant Loud from JEOPARDY! This is the call!”
Grant explained that this would be a special series of programs filmed in Boston. They were taking only people who resided in the original 13 colonies for this week of programs. Would I be available on September 17 and 18? Yes! On September 17, my friend Judy Doyle and her son Max picked me up with my requisite three suits, five ties, two shirts, and my new shoes.
We get to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel. It was oddly shaped to fit the space that was available, I gather.
It turns out that President Clinton and other dignitaries were going to be at the hotel for a fancy (read: high-priced) fund-raising dinner. Eventually, I could look down from my upper story room and see several hundred protesters, split about 50/50 anti-Clinton, and anti-Ken Starr, the special prosecutor, who put all of the lurid details about Bill and Monica Lewinsky on the Internet. The added security made it difficult for us to get back into the hotel, once we left for dinner. (Host Alex Trebek had the same difficulty, I later learn.)
The contestants were to meet in the hotel lobby with our change of clothes at 11:30 a.m. We rode in two vans for the two or three-block trip to the Wang Center. Among other things, she noted that the place was much larger (seating capacity 3200) than the small theater where the show is filmed (250).
Boston was really psyched to have JEOPARDY! in town. The Globe, the Herald, and even the Christian Science Monitor were there, interviewing Susanne, Trebek, head writer Gary Johnson, and others.
There was a cameraman from WTEN wishing me “good luck.” They were because it was relatively close by AND because a guy from Albany was there. The WTEN cameraman was following me around the room, and that he particularly concentrated on my feet because he was fascinated by my red Chuck Taylor sneakers. (I REALLY know this, because, a few months later he gave me his raw footage of my feet and other things he filmed.)
My interview with Bianca de la Garza from Channel 10 takes place. Then Sharman Saccetti of Channel 18 in Elmira was there to interview me, probably because the station that carries JEOPARDY! in the Binghamton market, my hometown, is located 60 miles away in Elmira. Then Channel 2 Plattsburgh wanted to talk with me. Why? I don’t know. I must have been the contestant geographically closest to them.
Finally, with Susanne Thurber practically dragging me off the stage to end interview #3, we return downstairs. It was determined who the contestants who would face defending champion Tom: Amy Roeder, an actress from Merrimack, NH, and me!
I am still feeling very relaxed. Then Johnny Gilbert says, “A business librarian from Albany, NY, Roger Green.”
And my mouth goes dry.
(Tomorrow, the thrilling conclusion.)