The syndicated hit’s producers haven’t announced who will compete this year, but don’t expect a lot of politicians who are now in office.
Back in ’04 — also an election year — the players included loads of TV-news talent: Ashleigh Banfield, Maria Bartiromo, Aaron Brown, Gretchen Carlson, Tucker Carlson, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann, Tim Russert and Tavis Smiley. There also was author/Post journalist Bob Woodward, former N.J. governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan, former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, comic Al Franken (now a U.S. senator representing Minnesota) and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Yes, Sen. John McCain made a surprise guest appearance, taking over for host Alex Trebek to introduce the Final Jeopardy! question.
(McCain was on “Jeopardy!” back in 1964, when he screwed up a Final Jeopardy! question about Heathcliff, from Emily Bronte’s novel “Wuthering Heights,” the Post’s Jennifer Frey wrote while covering the ‘04 Power Players Week taping. Making his surprise appearance, McCain asked Frey to please note that he’d known the answer back in ’64, but that he blurted out the name of the novel instead of the name of the character.)
Anyway, the absence of seated politicians at that ‘04 Power Player taping was so noticeable, someone asked host Trebek about it.
Both party candidates were invited but declined, said Trebek, adding: “We’d love to get people from Congress, but they’re not likely to submit to this kind of interrogation.”
“They’re more nervous because this is an unfamiliar setting for them,” Trebek continued. “They are not in control. I am. They have to play our game.”
Anyway, whoever winds up competing this year, they’ll will be guaranteed $50,000 for their charity of choice if they win. The competitions will be taped April 21 at DAR Constitution Hall.
This year’s competitions will air during the May sweep on WJLA, Washington’s ABC-affiliated TV station.