Television game show stalwarts Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune will resume taping with modifications as early as this week, reported Deadline. Production for each shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic in March. The series will return to the small screen with safety precautions set in place to keep contestants and hosts — Alex Trebek, Pat Sajak, and Vanna White — safe.
"Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are returning to the studio to tape episodes for the shows' upcoming seasons. The productions have protocols in place in accordance with current government guidelines to protect contestants, staff, crew, and talent from the spread of COVID-19. While some things may have changed behind the scenes and on the set to keep everyone safe, fans can expect to see the same Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! they have come to love when the season starts," a studio spokeswoman stated to Deadline.
Deadline stated that on Wheel of Fortune, the oversized wheel, which competitors spin to add to their cash and prize winnings accounts as they guess letters in an attempt to solve a puzzle, has been redesigned. This is to enforce an appropriate distance of players from one another. Since Wheel's debut in 1975, players have been at a close distance to each other and the show's host, Sajak, who regularly stood close by to speak with and encourage them throughout the game.
As for Jeopardy!, the news outlet reported that the stage, which was already socially distanced, was redesigned for even more space between podiums. Alex Trebek, the series' host since 1984, will reportedly remain at his lectern throughout the taping. He will likely not be closely interacting with players as he did at the end of each episode when he would go up to each of the three contestants, shake their hands, and speak with them.
Alex, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer, recently said in an interview with Good Morning America, as reported by The Inquisitr, that he has no plans to leave his hosting duties.
"It's something that I can't explain intellectually. At a gut level, without even thinking about it, it just happens. I suddenly wake up and I'm able to perform and handle the show because I like it," he stated.
Other measures will be taken on set that include the use of only essential employees during filming days and regular temperature checks as well as protective face coverings to attempt to ensure the safety of all involved in the series' production.
Jeopardy! will reportedly film five episodes a day, over two days beginning this week. There was no information on how many episodes or days Wheel of Fortune will film. They will head back to the studio next week to begin production.