Here’s the third and final segment of a chat I had with 4-time Jeopardy! champ and Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist Stephen Weingarten. This was a pleasure, and I hope this interview is the first of many with other Jeopardy! contestants/champs.
Jeanie: At the Tournament, did you have a chance to interact with your fellow contestants besides while playing? If so, what was THAT like? (Like, what kinds of things did you all talk about?)
Stephen: We got to interact quite a bit, and it was great. We all knew each others’ faces already, of course, and it was great to meet everyone. The only exception was Regina [Robbins], whose first episode actually aired the first day of ToC taping! That was neat. As for what we talked about… Just lots of stuff. The game, our lives, etc. We got to take a couple of tests that they are working on to use in fututre auditions, which was fun and a topic of conversation. But we were all just mainly getting to know each other and trying to stay loose.
Jeanie: That’s cool that you got to take future audition tests. It’s a good idea to try them on Tournament of Champions contestants. Do you keep in touch with each other?
Stephen: Yes, we do. It’s a fun club to be in!
Jeanie: Oh, that is so cool. I’m jealous! Did you get to stay for the finals of the Tournament?
Stephen: Of course! We were all there, and then we had a party on the set afterwards with cake and champagne.
Jeanie: As you know, then, finalist Jason Zollinger said on the show he’d done a “couple dozen” interviews after his original appearance on Jeopardy! Do you think you have done that many? That is, do you think that’s about how many other champs have done?
Stephen: I’ve done a lot, but probably only about 10 or so.
Jeanie: Have you considered writing a book about your Jeopardy! experiences like some of your predecessors (Bob Harris, Chuck Forrest, Michael Dupee, to name a few)?
Stephen: No, not really. It would be hard to top Bob Harris. Speaking of, my dad and sister came to the taping, and my sister (who just graduated from medical school YESTERDAY, I’m very proud) ended up sitting next to Bob at the taping! She hasn’t read the book, but she recognized him from his picture on the cover, so he was rooting for me in my game! I got to meet him, too. Great, great guy.
Jeanie: That’s neat. I have his book, and I’m hoping he will write another one. Incidentally, I would buy a book that you wrote. Congratulations to your sister! What are YOU doing these days?
Stephen: Thanks. I’m mostly staying home taking care of my baby daughter, Iris. I also do some work on the side working with a young autistic man, helping him figure out how to live in a world not really made for him.
Jeanie: How is your baby? I know she was born less than two weeks before your first appearance on Jeopardy!
Stephen: She’s great. Very strong, wants to walk before she can crawl!
Jeanie: Do you have any advice for aspiring Jeopardy! contestants, or anything else you wanted to say?
Stephen: I definitely recommend that any fan of the show at least try the online test whenever it is offered. I mean, why not? It’s fun even to try, and your dream really can come true. I loved Jeopardy! long before I made it on the show, and I love it even more now. Take the chance!
Jeanie: That’s great. I know I’ve thanked you like a zillion times, but I want to do it one more time!
Stephen: Well, thank you too. It was fun, and I really do enjoy your blog. I hope you keep it up!
Jeanie: Thank you. I really appreciate that. I will keep it up.
Tomorrow: A recap of tomorrow’s show, and my scores for this week. And FYI: I am still looking at potential guest-bloggers. Tell me if you are interested!