Continued from Saturday, June 25.
There was a cameraman from WTEN wishing me “good luck.” Oh, this guy from Albany! Channel 10, who carries JEOPARDY!, must be here because Boston’s so close to Albany. That made sense to me. They probably would have gone to New York City as well.
This is only partially the story. They were also there because a GUY from Albany (i.e., ME) was here. Somehow my brain wasn’t making the connection until we all went back downstairs.
We get a few more instructions from the staff. Then Glenn Kagan from JEOPARDY! was going over my response card, and he asked about some of the specifics of the incidents mentioned. When he read about the LPs and CDs I had, he asked about my favorite group, to which I replied, “The Beatles.” This led to a conversation about the American Beatles albums and the two of us doing the instrumental, James Bondian, introduction to Help! Then I said, “I’m not familiar that. How does it go?” We both laughed heartily. (On videotape, this looks VERY goofy.) He also went over my Rod Serling and mountain pieces. (The Serling piece I’m saving for a particular time. The mountain story is that I tore out my knee in 1994 on one mountain and almost got blown off another 1997 – “I like sea level.”)
I met with many of the other contestants. I’m not sure if Tom Schellhammer, a lawyer from Arlington, VA, the defending champion, was present, but I barely saw him during this period. I AM sure that 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.)
Next, we went to makeup. Dave, one of the contestants, said to Jennifer, the makeup artist, “Don’t make me look too trampy!” Jennifer spent extra time with me, because I had the most forehead of the bunch.
It was time for us to go back upstairs and onto stage. At some point, there were pictures taken of Alex Trebek and the contestants. For some obscure reason, when I had my picture taken, Alex did the rabbit thing; you know, two fingers behind my head! I know this only because I saw him do this on a monitor; as a result, I have a JEOPARDY! pic sans host.
We did promo pieces. My eyes are darting left and right, and I’m one of the few (or perhaps the only one) who has to do it over.
Glenn explains the buzzer, and the board. There are these little white lights around the board that indicate when Alex is finished asking the question, which is when we should ring in. I see the lights as they are specifically pointed out to me, but from then on, I never see them again.
When we do the practice game, there is a host and announcer and almost everything else you’d expect for a regular game, such as the music and sound effects. The host’s name was Glenn Tate, one of those guys with those game-show-host good looks. I played against Julie and Dave. He even asks us a question for the interview segment. My question: what would I do with the money? I said that I’d buy a music box set. (It wasn’t my most inspired response.) It wasn’t a whole round, and we all had inherited scores from the previous group. I got some right, missed at least two (including one we all missed: the 5 W’s of journalism!), and we each gained $1000 in our time up there.
There are lots of media, as I’ve said, and there was a period when only a few were on stage that the rest of us were in the front row of the auditorium watching Alex getting interviewed. The media also got to play a practice game, so that they can say on their respective local broadcasts, or write in their stories, “It’s not as easy as it looks.”
Then, the interview with Bianca de la Garza from Channel 10 takes place.
She asked if I was relaxed
“I’m going to be on national television and you talk about relaxed.”
She asked about money.
I said if I concentrate on money, and don’t win any, than the joy of the experience might be lost, so I’m going to try to have fun.
I told her about many of the things I’ve already written here (Aunt Deana, trip to Detroit & DC, toothache, etc.)
She asked some other things (which you’ll read about later) in a 10-minute interview.
Others were being interviewed by local stations as well. When I finished with Bianca, I figured I was done. But no, Sharman Saccetti of Channel 18 in Elmira was there to interview me. Why? Because the station that carries JEOPARDY! in the Binghamton market , my hometown, is located 60 miles away in Elmira. (Elmira’s near Corning where my friend Judy, who gave me the ride, lived; eventually she got me a video clip). I told her the experience was “exciting, terrifying, invigorating.”
(Incidentally, Bianca, Sharman and a guy named Matt and were involved in a media practice game against each other. Sharman, who “won”, eventually moved from Channel 18 to Channel 10 in Albany, and she’s moved on from there.)
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 talent coordinator Susanne Thurber practically dragging me off the stage to end interview #3, we return downstairs. By some method unknown to me, it was determined who the contestants who would face defending champion Tom: Amy Roeder, an actress from Merrimack, NH, and me!
So, we three go to makeup AGAIN. Maggie, a member of the staff, accompanies me to the bathroom (so that nobody could slip me answers, presumably; she DID wait outside the door.) Then back to the dressing room, where I FINALLY take off my red sneakers and put on shoes.
In those days, JEOPARDY! used to do “the walk”; the contestants would walk to the podium. (They’ve since abolished it.) But in Boston, they didn’t use it because there were wires all over the place.
I got a glass of water, but I couldn’t keep it at the podium.
I am still feeling very relaxed. Then Johnny Gilbert says, “A business librarian from Albany, NY, Roger Green.”
And my mouth goes dry.
Continued on Saturday, July 9