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Jeopardy Faces Boycott From Former Champions In Solidarity With WGA Strike

As studios prepared to weather the arguably self-created storm that is the Writers Guild of America strike, they had seemingly hoped to rely on reality game shows to keep the lights on. There's just one problem — even game shows need writers.

Ahead of this year's "Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions," there seems to be credible reports that producers are planning to film the show with reused material in order to circumvent the WGA strike. When those very "Champions" — most of whom are lifelong "Jeopardy!" fans themselves — caught wind of these alleged plans, several of them announced plans to boycott the series in solidarity. Super-Champ Ray Lalonde shared his support in a statement on Reddit and urged his fellow champions to join him in skipping the Tournament, despite its prestige.

"There are now credible reports that the producers are making contingency plans to start filming the next season of the show with old and/or recycled material if the WGA strike remains unresolved," he wrote. "I am a lifelong devoted fan of Jeopardy!. I am and will always be grateful for the experience I had on the show and the opportunity to participate in the TOC is beyond a dream come true for me. That being said, I believe that the show's writers are a vital part of the show and they are justified in taking their job action to secure a fair contract for themselves and their fellow WGA members."

Ben Chan and Cris Pannullo join Ray Lalonde in solidarity

Ray Lalonde is far from the only "Jeopardy!" champ to refuse to return for "Tournament of Champions" – which is expected to be returning later this year — without a fair agreement from the AMPTP. (Members of the WGA are seeking, among other things, safeguards against the existential threat of AI).

Ben Chan, whose nine-day winning streak ended in May of this year, responded to Lalonde on Reddit, simply stating, "If you are out, I am out." 21-day winner Cris Pannullo — a popular contestant whom many had anticipated getting to see compete at the tournament this year — echoed Lalonde's statement, as well. "I am a huge Jeopardy fan and it was a dream to appear on the show," he shared, "[But] I fully agree with his stance and will not participate in any games comprised of recycled clues while the WGA strike is in effect."

As Pannullo alluded, "Jeopardy!" writers are not only responsible for scripted dialogue but the very questions that comprise the show's content. "The writers make the clues; the clues make the show," said 5-day winner Luigi de Guzman. "The clues in the 'Tournament of Champions' have typically been some of the best of the best clues the show has had to offer. They are at once challenging and creative." 

There has been no statement from either "Jeopardy!" or Sony Pictures Television regarding this issue. The champions' boycott comes months after host Mayim Bialik stepped away from "Jeopardy!" in solidarity with the WGA as well.