Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009 | 2:37 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
The first game show to embrace hi-def technology made history again this week at the Consumer Electronics Show when it became the first TV series to film an episode at the convention.
Five “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions” episodes were filmed at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday night after the first day of CES came to a close.
The show will tape 11 episodes at CES using a new, 16,000-square-foot set before the annual, 2,700-exhibit technology showcase closes on Sunday.
The top-rated quiz show also filmed an episode of “Celebrity Jeopardy” on Friday night. The taping featured Tom Bergeron of “Dancing with the Stars,” Elizabeth Perkins from “Weeds,” and Aisha Tyler, whose latest movie, “Bedtime Stories,” premiered last month.
Host Alex Trebek said “Celebrity Jeopardy!” differs from standard episodes.
“The material is probably easier,” he said. “It’s more tailored toward pop culture.”
Despite Trebek’s assurances, Tyler felt the need to brush up on her reading before her on-air appearance.
“I read the entire Internet,” she joked. “It took me, like, three days.”
She admitted that her studying didn’t exactly go as well as she had hoped.
“I had very grand plans,” she said. “I ordered a lot of books. Unfortunately, I didn’t read most of them.”
The funny-yet-stunning star said she was hoping to see categories like “cocktails” and “Xbox 360 games” on the “Jeopardy!” game board. She also noted that she would do well if “French” or “food” categories had come up.
“I’m a foodie,” she confessed with a smile, “(But) I’m done if they do sports.”
Perkins was less humorous but more confident than her competitor.
“I’ve been watching ‘Jeopardy!’ my whole life,” she said, but admitted that she hadn’t studied before coming to Vegas for the taping.
Bergeron also said he failed to prepare for the quiz show and instead was hoping to “improvise” his answers and wish for the best.
“This is sort of the strategy I used in school,” he quipped.
All VIP contestants were guaranteed at least $25,000 in winnings for the charity of their choice, regardless of how they finished. Still, there was an incentive to win: First-place “Celebrity Jeopardy!” contestants earn at least $50,000 for their charity.
Bergeron’s winnings will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association; Perkins’ gains will be given to the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition; and Tyler’s loot will be split between Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee’s Congo initiative.
Bergeron said it was easy for him to pick a deserving charity.
“I’ve been working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for a number of years … so it was a natural choice,” he said.
Friday’s episode of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” was taped in front of a live, 600-person audience and will air on Tuesday, March 10.
In addition to the “Celebrity Jeopardy!” taping, the quiz show will film 10 other episodes of its popular “Tournament of Champions” during CES. Five installments were recorded on Thursday evening and the remaining five will be taped on site Saturday night.
Tickets for all tapings were distributed through the “Jeopardy!” Web site, local affiliate stations, and to CES exhibitors and attendees who expressed interest. While admission was free, producers said all 11 filmings were “sold out.”
“’Jeopardy!’ was the first quiz show to produce episodes in HD and we continue to embrace the newest broadcast and interactive technologies,” the show’s executive producer, Harry Friedman, said.
The new game board includes 36 42-inch Sony HD-LCD monitors, while the energy-conscious set utilizes OLED technology.
The innovative design was unveiled Wednesday at CES.
After the conference wraps up Sunday, the set will be boxed up and shipped to California, where it will be used after the show resumes its regular in-studio schedule.
“We’re going to use this set and take it back to Los Angeles and use it next fall,” Trebek said.
The technology-savvy host said innovations both big and small are changing our world for the better.
“Technology has changed the way we acquire education,” he said. “It really has changed our lives.”