Hollywood Shootout

Celebrity Jeopardy returns with a fight to the end

Published January 7, 2024

Welcome back to my weekly rundown from the world of Jeopardy!

The new year started off with more Second Chance action on the syndicated show. Meanwhile Celebrity Jeopardy saw its first semifinal, while viewers in the U.K. saw the premiere of their new version hosted by Stephen Fry.

Each heading contains a link to my daily write-up over at The Jeopardy! Fan

Winter 2024 Second Chance, Week 2 Final, Game #2, Monday, Jan. 1

Greg Czaja entered Day 2 with a slim lead over Xanni Brown, but it was Xanni who got off to the better start here, picking up a True Daily Double to jump into the overall lead. Greg found both Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy, crucially missing the second one for $3,000, which was enough for Xanni to take the overall advantage on the last clue of Double Jeopardy. Christopher Pennant was not in contention for the overall win, but he could still take second.

The crucial Final Jeopardy was in Landmarks: 213 feet wide, this late 18th c. European structure has 5 portals, the middle of which was–at first–for royals only. Both Greg and Xanni correctly named Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, which was enough for Xanni to win $35,000 and advance. Greg took second place and $20,000, while Christopher took third at $10,000.

Week 3, Semifinal #1, Tuesday, Jan. 2

Michael Cavaliere started Week 3 off with a strong performance, picking up 25 correct responses in the first two rounds, but conservative Daily Double bets meant he didn’t quite manage to secure a runaway. Sophia Weng, getting an opportunity after she wasn’t able to take part in last season’s High School Reunion Tournament, got 18 correct responses herself, and was just inside of Michael’s score, with Sharon Bishop in third.

A result of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games being on separate tape days, we got Landmarks for the second straight day. This one: During Pope John Paul II’s 1987 visit to Los Angeles, pranksters covered up this letter in a local landmark. Sharon was the only player to correctly pick the letter L (the sign going from Hollywood to Holywood), while Sophia heartbreakingly misread the clue—responding with the name of the landmark instead. Michael, despite missing Final Jeopardy, advanced to the final. 

Semifinal #2, Wednesday, Jan. 3

Despite Andrew Whatley’s incorrect response early in Double Jeopardy on a Daily Double, Wednesday’s semifinal was a close battle for most of the game between him, Randall Rayford, and Rachel Cohen. However, Randall broke the game wide open midway through the round when he successfully converted a $9,200 True Daily Double. While it wasn’t enough to give him a runaway going into Final, he did have a strong lead.

The Final Jeopardy clue, in From the French: With murder, shadows, a nosy reporter & Peter Lorre, 1940’s “Stranger on the Third Floor” is the first example of this, some say. Andrew and Randall both came up with the cinema genre “film noir,” as Randall advanced to the final.

Semifinal #3, Thursday, Jan. 4

Thursday’s third semifinal saw Matt Harvey put up a strong performance in both rounds, racking up $16,400 on 22 correct responses without the help of a Daily Double. That was enough to hold the lead going into Final Jeopardy over Max Davison and Kelly Shannon Henderson, who had both gotten Daily Doubles correct in Double Jeopardy.

Thursday’s Final Jeopardy in Historic Americans: They went their separate ways in 1806 & both became territorial governors: one of Upper Louisiana, the other of Missouri. While Max attempted a shoutout after a $0 bet in Final, both Matt and Kelly successfully named Lewis & Clark, as Matt earned a berth in the final.

Final, Game #1, Friday, Jan. 5

The first 15 clues in the two-game final were low-scoring ones, due partly to Michael Cavaliere’s miss on an early True Daily Double. But it settled into a good game by the end of two rounds, with Matt Harvey, Randall Rayford, and Michael each picking up 17–18 correct responses by Final Jeopardy.

That clue, in Children’s Books: A 2020 edition of this beloved 1911 novel came with a glossary of horticultural terms & a location guide. While everyone made excellent guesses, nobody was able to name Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Randall bet all $7,600 of his score to end Day 1 at $0. However, Michael and Matt also made healthy bets: Michael lost half of his $13,200 to end at $6,600 and Matt lost $6,200 of his $16,200 to end at $10,000. Much like last week, everybody is still very much in contention going into Day 2 on Monday.

Celebrity Jeopardy! Semifinal #1, Tuesday, Jan. 2

Celebrity Jeopardy also returned to our screens this week with this season’s first semifinal, between Utkarsh Ambudkar (Ghosts), Mira Sorvino (Shining Vale), and Lisa Ann Walter (The Parent Trap and Abbott Elementary). All three players showed early on why they had won a quarterfinal, with everyone’s scores within $300 at the opening break. By the midway point in the three-round game, everyone was still playing very well!

Things started to break Mira’s way in the second half of Double Jeopardy; Lisa Ann struggled, picking up four incorrect responses, while Mira got the Daily Double. Through two rounds, Mira’s score sat at $11,200, while Utkarsh had $4,500 and Lisa Ann $4,400.

As things tend to do in Triple Jeopardy, though, they turned back the other way. Lisa Ann picked up five of the first seven clues, taking the lead when she got the first Daily Double correct on clue #7. The second Daily Double extended her lead, while Mira’s comeback attempt was helped by the third Daily Double. After six lead changes in the final eight clues, Lisa Ann secured the lead going into Final Jeopardy.

That crucial Final Jeopardy in Award-Winning Actresses: Her 2019 Oscar win & 2021 Emmy win were both for portraying a British queen. Both Utkarsh and Lisa Ann successfully named Olivia Colman (who won for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite and Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown) as Lisa Ann became the first finalist! The SAG-AFTRA Foundation, supporting the Emergency Financial Assistance and Disaster Relief Fund will get $50,000 courtesy of Utkarsh’s performance, and the UN Trust Fund for victims of human trafficking will get $50,000 thanks to Mira’s strong play.

Other notes from the week:

  • The new British version hosted by Stephen Fry is settling in well; a pair of players, Miles Searle and Keshava Guha, both won a pair of games and over £10,000 during their respective runs. The average winning score is just under £5,000 so far, which is higher than I expected. I’ve also been enjoying the more relaxed pace—the game is three boards over the course of an hour—which allows Stephen Fry to interject fun tidbits of information after clues.
  • Next week features the final game of Week 3’s Second Chance, followed by the three semifinals and the first game of the final of Week 4. On the Celebrity end of things, we’ll be seeing Semifinal #2, between Steven Weber (Wings), sports commentator Katie Nolan, and Dulé Hill (The Wonder Years).

Andy Saunders covers Jeopardy! daily as site administrator for The Jeopardy! Fan. He is also a founding archivist of The J! Archive. His weekly recap appears at Questionist every Sunday.