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TV Column
Posted at 06:10 PM ET, 04/17/2012

‘Jeopardy!’ returns to Washington with Power Players, goes against ‘Millionaire’ American Pride Week


It may not be as exciting as Watson, but “Jeopardy!” is coming back to Washington. (Seth Wenig - AP)
The syndicated quiz show “Jeopardy!” has released the names of the “power players” who will participate in its annual Power Players Week in Washington, playing for charities of their choosing.

Once again, the list includes no sitting political figures, who are too skittish about competing in a test of knowledge.

Instead, once again, the list is thick with media types, and Power Player Week will be an exercise in picking lice off each others’ backs. You know: “Hardball” star Chris Matthews promotes “Jeopardy!” And “Jeopardy!” promotes Matthews and “Hardball.” Everybody wins, and some charities get some money.

Yes, MSNBC’s Matthews is returning to compete on the show; he’ll be joined by CNN (and syndicated talk-show host) Anderson Cooper. CNBC’s David Faber. BBC World News America’s Kitty Kay, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell, CNN’s Lizzie O’Leary, Fox News Channel’s Dana Perino, NBC’s Chuck Todd, and Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace.

This year’s players also include TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and native-son comic Lewis Black.

The episodes will tape Saturday in front of an audience at DAR Constitution Hall and air May 14-18.

Power Players Week has some competition this year. Days before those broadcasts, the syndicated quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — for the first time — will spend a week and a day “celebrating everything that makes America great!” with something it’s calling American Pride Week.

American Pride Week will feature firefighters, teachers and members of the U.S. military — all dressed in red, white, and blue, and also competing for charity.

American Pride Week will also feature U.S. Olympians: Gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Jonathan Horton and swimmers Dara Torres and Ryan Lochte will play “Millionaire” as two-person teams, and will donate their winnings to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

American Pride Week will airs April 30 to May 4, with an additional broadcast on May 7.

Just one week later, Power Players Week debuts.

A “Millionaire” source insists that the themed episodes weren’t conceived to compete with Power Players Week, but rather to tap into viewers’ interest in the upcoming Summer Olympics in London.

“Jeopardy!” has a huge advantage over “Millionaire” heading into its dueling flag-waving, Memorial Day walk-up episodes. This season, “Jeopardy!” averages 9.134 million viewers a day; “Millionaire” averages about 3.6 million.

“Jeopardy!” boasts that it’s the country’s No. 1-rated “quiz” show (a sub-sect of the “game” show genre, of which “Wheel of Fortune” is the country’s most popular syndicated program) and reaches 25 million viewers each week.

That means 25 million viewers sample the show across its multiple broadcasts in the course of a week. That number makes advertisers happy, because the assumption is that viewers see an ad break.

Not making advertisers as happy: the “Jeopardy!” audience skews a very old 64.8 years — which means half its audience is older than about 65. “Millionaire’s” median age is 62.2 years. (For comparison’s sake, syndicated tabloid show “TMZ” has a median age of 45.2 years.)

By  |  06:10 PM ET, 04/17/2012

 
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