Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Unstoppable Ken Jennings

Dana Stevens agrees with me: I don't mind Ken Jennings all that much--

But the real TV story this week has to be the undisputed 25-game reign of Jeopardy! supercontestant Ken Jennings. As of yesterday, the 30-year-old software engineer from Salt Lake City had won a total of $788,960, beating the previous record-holder, Tom Walsh, by a margin of over $600,000. Granted, this unprecedented victory streak was also made possible by this season's change in Jeopardy! rules—the term limits have been lifted, as it were, so that the run of a winning contestants may continue indefinitely, instead of being stopped after five consecutive games. But Ken is no mere beneficiary of this loophole in Jeopardy! bylaws; self-deprecating and sweet, the blond, elfin Jennings has host Alex Trebek wrapped around his fast-on-the-buzzer finger. (One evening, the bemused host opened with, "Welcome to the Alex and Ken show," and David Letterman has an ongoing gag in which he speculates that a lovestruck Trebek is helping Jennings cheat.) KenJen has turned the Culver City set into his own private fiefdom.

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