Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune already announced they would tape episodes without studio audiences, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and social distancing becomes the most important safety measure against fighting coronavirus’s deadly impact on society, both game shows are pulling the plug on production altogether.
The official Jeopardy! Twitter account announced on Monday that both syndicated game shows will suspend production immediately in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
With the increasing concern surrounding COVID-19, we have decided to temporarily suspend production on Jeopardy! and @WheelofFortune. The health and well-being of our contestants, staff, and crew are our top priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) March 16, 2020
This makes sense in a lot of ways, starting with the fact that Alex Trebek is a 79-year-old currently battling Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Keeping the show’s legendary host healthy means social distancing, which is incredibly difficult to do when working on a television show. Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak is also 73 and recently underwent surgery, so being proactive is a best case for everyone involved.
Speaking practically, the podiums for players are also closer together than the CDC would recommend as far as social distancing rules are concerned, which would put even younger, healthier people at risk for exposure. Not to mention the crew members who are still working both shows, whether they have studio audiences or not. Shutting everything down is what’s been seen as the most reasonable measure for most of the entertainment industry and businesses across the world. but when game shows are hit you know just how serious it all is.
It’s unclear when either show will run out of already taped episodes, but they will presumably just show already-aired episodes once the current bulk of new ones runs out. It’s unfortunate for whichever champion ends up with the crown once the shows are halted altogether, but it’s important that everyone stays home and keeps their distance for the time being.
Thankfully, there are plenty of episodes of both to keep us occupied in syndication for as long as we’re social distancing.