‘Jeopardy!’ Is Back With A COVID-Era Update From Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek is back in the studio.

The new season of “Jeopardy!” premiered Monday night, and the show had a few things in announce in the host’s intro, welcoming everyone back to the studio, but with a few key changes.

RELATED: Alex Trebek Will Return To ‘Jeopardy!’ Sept. 14 With New Producer Ken Jennings

First, and most important, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show has separated the contestants’ lecterns, “to provide a little extra social distancing between the players.”

Trebek added, “We have done the same thing for our staff and crew. We’re trying to provide as safe an environment as possible as we produce these new programs for your enjoyment.”

The host also added that returning champion Zach Newkirk will not, in fact, be returning for a few weeks, as he was unable to travel to play, though Trebek confirmed he will be returning eventually.

“I feel good, and I feel excited because once again ‘Jeopardy!’ has demonstrated that it’s at the forefront of television programming,” Trebek said in a statement to People. “I believe we are the first quiz show to come back on the air in the COVID-19 era.

“On a personal level, I’m excited because it gets me out of the house. It gives me something to do on a regular basis, and I was missing that.”

“Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards added, “I think the world needs something to be happy about. So when the greatest quiz show of all time starts airing new episodes, then they can take a deep breath and say ‘Oh, it’s “Jeopardy!” It’s the same great show, and it’s even better.'”

 

In another big change to the show for its 37th season, record-setting champion Ken Jennings will serve as a consulting producer.

RELATED: Alex Trebek Says Betty White Should Be His ‘Jeopardy!’ Replacement

Speaking to “Good Morning America”, Jennings said, “I kind of feel like I have a unique perspective on ‘Jeopardy!’. I’ve been a fan of the show for over 35 years now, it’s a huge part of my life growing up. And then for the last 15 years, seeing the show as a contestant.”

Jennings explained that he will be working on the show in a number of capacities, helping to present video categories, working with the writers on clues, and helping with contestant outreach as casting goes virtual.

Talking about the COVID precautions on the set, Jennings said that Trebek will be staying at his host’s podium in order to keep a distance from contestants.

“Alex’s health is priority No. 1 on that set,” he said.

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