Vulture, the cultural news website of New York magazine, just did an interview with Jeopardy! EP Michael Davies. He answers lots of our Jeopardy! questions in this interview.
Interview is linked below, but Vulture is a subscription site that only gives you one or two free stories a month. Since some people may not be able to access the story, I'll copy and paste it below. It's a long interview so it will take multiple posts to get it all on here.
By Devon Ivie, a staff writer covering classic rock and TV
America’s favorite game show of objective, blue-tinted truth has given us a new spectacle to behold. Jeopardy! Masters reconvenes six of the most prolific champions in the show’s recent history — Amy Schneider, Andrew He, James Holzhauer, Mattea Roach, Sam Buttrey, and Matt Amodio — many of whom have previously faced off against each other from across the lecterns. Through May 24, this sextet is working within a point system to outsmart their way to glory, with each episode consisting of two back-to-back games hosted by Ken Jennings. (If you win your game, for instance, you’re awarded three points, while zero points are given to the third-place finisher.) The $500,000 prize is a nice touch for whoever is eventually crowned “master,” but perpetual bragging rights, of course, is perhaps the most important stake of all.
Executive producer Michael Davies has been steering the good ship Jep! ever since the demise of Mike Richards in 2021, bringing forth decades of bold development experience to the franchise. (He’s the one who brought Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Stateside.) With a current contract signed for three years, he’s enacting a vision that approaches the game show as a sport, with spinoffs, new visuals, and rule changes all possibilities in the near future. “I have lots of ideas,” Davies tells me. “There are limits on my power, there are limits on my knowledge. But I’ve spent a career developing shows and adjusting based on feedback. I’m truly open to it.”
Jeopardy! debuted the Second Chance Tournament near the end of last year. Why was now the right time for another new event?
To be honest, I’m not convinced I could say that it was the right time to launch it. I was compelled to produce it because I love the concept. I’m not an impatient person, but when I get excited about an idea, I want to see it happen. I knew the network wanted it, and one thing I’ve learned over the years is that when a network wants an idea, you don’t delay it for a year — you strike while they’re excited. So this was the timing.
It would’ve been hard to do this before now. My predecessors couldn’t have done it earlier because we just had that season of super-champions, which is where almost all these players emerged from. There’s been some talk out there like, Oh, is there a recency bias? Why do we only have the most recent champions other than James Holzhauer? But when you go through what these players do statistically and how they play the game, you realize they’re playing at a different level in terms of the number of correct answers per show. Now we look at their buzzer data. We can see their buzzer attempts and their buzzer speed. We had six masters and Ken who were able to carry this franchise, put that title on it, and have it mean something.