Sony Hack: Alex Trebek Wanted to Quit Jeopardy! Over Re-shoot Request


A producer’s request to re-shoot a segment on Jeopardy! following the complaint of a child contestant’s mother left show host Alex Trebek steaming mad.

According to a series of emails from the Sony hack obtained by Radar Online, the incident started during a taping of an episode of Jeopardy! Kids, which aired from Dec.1-5. On one episode, a contestant ended up in the red before Final Jeopardy, making her ineligible for play. As Yahoo reports, during the Dec. 3 episode that aired, Trebek said to the girl, who was $1,400 in debt, “We have bad news for you, because you’re in the negative situation, it means you won’t be around for Final Jeopardy, but you’ll automatically pick up $1000 for a third place finish.” (It’s not clear if this was a result of a re-shoot or if this was what Trebek originally said to the contestant.)

Radar reports that the situation backstage got tense when the girl became upset. Afterwards her mother fired off a message to the show’s producers, telling them she felt Trebek’s treatment of her daughter was insensitive:

“She was visibly upset” and ran backstage crying with her mother, a producer writes in the emails. The producer and her mother eventually calmed the girl and she returned to the set to watch the taping of another episode from the audience. But the mother wrote in a letter to producers that she “was quite a bit taken back” with Trebek’s reaction.
According to the mom, Trebek didn’t ever console the girl backstage. “If he had taken the time, he would have known, like you do, that my daughter is not a sore loser, and does not become emotional solely over losing a game,” the woman wrote. “She was upset about not being able to completely play the game to the end.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for that,” the girl’s mom wrote in a letter to Jeopardy! producers.

The show’s producers, looking “to appease an upset mother who could start another feeding frenzy about Alex’s perceived insensitivity,” asked Trebek to redo the segment. That did not go well for them:

“If you all think I should retape the opening, I will,” he wrote. “But I want to say that for 30 years I’ve defended our show against attacks inside and out. But it doesn’t seem to operate both ways. When I’m vilified, corporate (and certainly legal) always seems to say ‘don’t say anything and it’ll blow over,’ and I’m not feeling support from the producers, and that disappoints the s—t out of me.”

“If I’m making mistakes and saying things you don’t like, maybe it’s time for me to move on,” Trebek wrote to in the email. “It’s not a threat, but I want to let you know how I’m feeling.” According to Radar, Trebek later “calmed down” after firing off the first email.

None of this shit happened when Watson was a contestant. Just sayin’.

ETA: As superstar Jezebel commenter chattygal points out, the segment the parent could have been requesting to be edited was Trebek’s opener for the next day’s episode: “I think what helicopter mommy was demanding a re-shoot of was Trebek’s statement made at the opening of the following episode (taped with the losing girl sitting in the audience).” Here’s what Trebek had to say in that opener:

Alex: Thank you, Johnny. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome. I’m sure you’ve noticed that one of the main differences between our kids week shows and our regular fare, aside from the age factor, of course, is the element of emotion. As talented as they are, these very bright young people, haven’t yet had too many experiences in life where they were not the winners. And that can be pretty tough on some of them. Nevertheless, we hope that their visit to Jeopardy! winds up being viewed by them as a positive one. Olivia, Courtney, and Zane, welcome, good luck. Let’s go to work. Here are the categories for the first round of play today..

Image via Getty.

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