A couple dozen teens waited nervously in a Kansas City hotel Saturday morning. Their aim was a shot at the TV quiz show Jeopardy and its $75,000 teen tournament prize.
By MARK DAVIS
The Kansas City Star
One by one, auditioners stood against a pale blank wall as senior contestant coordinator Robert James snapped a photo.
Kellie Dick, 14, struck a profile, fully aware this is about television, not just brains.
Mr. Snazzy Bow Tie, come on, James said, beckoning Ari Krumbein to the wall.
First came the photo wall, then a 50-question Jeopardy-style written quiz in less than seven minutes, followed by brief buzzer-beating competitions among three teens at a time, just like on television.
Smile, contestant coordinator Corina Nusu coached the crowd. Its a game show, everybody. We want you to have a crazy big voice.
The questions were tough but secret, so no tips here. And these kids were up to the challenge.
Getting on that show, which will be shot in early March and air a few weeks later, wont be easy.
Jeopardy will audition 300 teens to find 15 who will make the tournament. Just to reach an audition meant scoring well on one of the shows scheduled online quizzes.
These are ambitious kids aspiring physicists and physicians, architects and aerospace engineers.
Most traveled far to take part in the the two-hour audition at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Home is in Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan or Ohio.
Three came across Missouri to attend.
Only one contestant resides in the Kansas City area Cory Cole, 17, of Overland Park.
She participates in the scholar bowl and theater at her all-girl high school, Notre Dame de Sion.
I always end up playing dudes, Cole said, except in the schools production of Hairspray, in which she played teenager Tracy Turnblads mom, a role played traditionally by a man.
So thats kind of progress.
But they are still teens. It showed when they filled the rows of seats in the contest room.
All six girls sat at the tables to the right of the aisle. All 16 boys sat on the left except Connor Robinson, who was one of the first in the room and sat in the front on what turned out to be the girls side.
This is kind of like a high school dance setup, he said.
Though young, they know what to do with $75,000.
Robinson said he would travel through Europe in a counterclockwise direction to follow the expansion of the Roman Empire.
Viras Mehta has a rusty old car and would trick it out and start a company.
Many said they would pay for college, lifting the burden off their parents.
Then there are Harry Rubins plans.
My parents dont know its $75,000. So I could tell them its 50.
How to play Jeopardy
• Dont buzz until host Alex Trebek finishes reading the answer, but keep buzzing.
• The form of the question doesnt have to make sense. What is Justin Bieber? still counts.
• Skip saying Please, Alex or other extraneous phrases when asking for the next clue. It wastes time and leaves money on the board.
To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.