EXCLUSIVE: Two of America’s longest-running game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are heading back to the studio.
Both shows were hit by the COVID-19 production shutdown, but Deadline understands that both syndicated shows, which come from Sony Pictures Television and CBS Television Distribution, are set to start filming this week and next.
There will, however, be a few adjustments.
In Wheel of Fortune, Deadline understands that the wheel has been redesigned to provide proper social distancing between contestants.
Over on Jeopardy!, the stage has been slightly redesigned to allow for more space between the three contestant podiums. The contestants will also be at a safe distance from host Alex Trebek at his lectern.
As you can imagine, both shows have taken health and safety precautions as they return to production in Culver City, California. Only essential staff and crew will be allowed on stage, PPE will be provided for everyone behind the scenes and all staff and crew will be tested on a regular basis, while contestants will also be tested before they come to the studio before they tape. Social distancing measures will also be rigorously enforced both on-stage and off.
Jeopardy!, which is set to film five episodes a day, two days a week, is expected to be back in the studio this week, while Wheel of Fortune is aiming to return to filming next week.
Wheel of Fortune, which is hosted by at Pat Sajak and Vanna White, is entering its 38th season, while Alex Trebek-hosted Jeopardy! is going into its 37th season. Both shows, created by Merv Griffin, are contracted through to the 2022-2023 season and are exec produced by Mike Richards, who replaces the retiring Harry Friedman.
“Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are returning to the studio to tape episodes for the shows’ upcoming seasons. The productions have protocols in place in accordance with current government guidelines to protect contestants, staff, crew and talent from the spread of COVID-19. While some things may have changed behind the scenes and on the set to keep everyone safe, fans can expect to see the same Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! they have come to love when the season starts,” a studio spokeswoman told Deadline.