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Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune were two of the many shows that had to stop production on new episodes due to COVID-19 safety precautions, although they had enough pretaped episodes that they didn't run out of content as quickly as some of the other unscripted shows. Still, both long-running game shows have run out of new episodes, so it may come as very good news to fans that Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are returning to production... although with some changes.
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy will both return to production within the next two weeks, according to Deadline, with some alterations made for safe filming. The wheel itself of Wheel of Fortune (heading into Season 38) has apparently been redesigned in a way that accommodates safe social distancing. Pat Sajak and Vanna White are expected to return, presumably with Sajak back as host and White turning letters after filling in for Sajak. Production is looking to return next week.
As for Jeopardy, on the verge of starting Season 37, the stage has been redesigned just enough to provide more space between the podiums of the three contestants, as well as between the contestant podiums and Alex Trebek's lectern. Five episodes of Jeopardy will film per day for two days of the week. Jeopardy is expected to return to production this week, with the new precautions in place.
These safety precautions for Jeopardy come as especially good news in light of Alex Trebek's ongoing health issues. The game show icon has been battling pancreatic cancer, and some of his comments about his treatment troubled fans. That said, Trebek was openly looking forward to getting back to posing questions in the forms of answers as soon as possible.
Both shows aren't just relying on redesigned sets and social distancing between contestants to maintain a safe working environment. The employees on stage will be limited to essential staff and crew. Personal protective equipment will be provided behind the scenes, and there will be regular testing for all crew and staff. Contestants will be tested before they tape at the studio, and social distancing will be implemented throughout production. Studio audiences will presumably not be part of either Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy production for the foreseeable future.
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are contracted for another three seasons, through the 2022-2023 TV season, so the "foreseeable future" is pretty long. Only time will tell if and when they can get back to business as usual, however. That said, a spokeswoman has stated that despite the changes for the sake of safety, "fans can expect to see the same Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! they have come to love when the season starts."
If all goes well and Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are able to return to production within the next couple weeks, it could still be a wait for new episodes depending on postproduction. While these game shows won't require the same levels postproduction that kept The Walking Dead and even Supernatural from finishing their seasons, we'll have to wait and hope that new episodes can be safely finished sooner rather than later. For some viewing options sooner rather than later, check out our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule!