Last week I had the chance to speak with Brad Rutter, who has won more than $3.25 million on TV quiz shows, including four appearances on Jeopardy. Rutter was in Los Angeles promoting his appearance on the upcoming GSN show Grand Slam.
B&C: Grand Slam, I understand that the format on this show is a little different than most other quiz shows, could you explain?
Brad Rutter: Right, well the creator in England, who was actually at the taping, said that he got the idea from a chess clock, when you are playing in a chess tournament you only have so much time to make you move and then you smack the chess clock, and the other guys time starts counting down. So it is sort of based on that concept although there’s no button that you push or anything, but your time runs down until you answer a question correctly, and then the other person’s time starts running and vice versa. There’s four rounds, and at the end of the first three rounds, whoever has time left over has that added to their time in the fourth round, and whoever wins that round, wins the game.
Brad Rutter prepares to compete in Grand Slam
B&C: The questions, how do they compare to questions you would see on, say, Jeopardy?
Rutter: They are pretty similar although at Jeopardy one of their big gimmicks is that you have to answer in the form of a question which obviously is not the case on Grand Slam, and usually they will give you a little hint in the question too on Jeopardy, so that if you don’t know it cold you may be able to figure it out from that. There’s less of that on Grand Slam, and also there is no math on Jeopardy and there is pretty much a whole segment on math in Grand Slam.
B&C: Does the atmosphere and the timing aspect make it tougher than what you would experience on Jeopardy or another game show?
Rutter: I think that those of us who had been on Jeopardy had a bit of an advantage compared people who had been on other game shows, because there is a lot more speed on Jeopardy than there is on something like (Who Wants To Be A) Millionaire, where you have as long as you might possibly want to answer a question. On jeopardy it’s all about speed really because two-thirds of the time all three people know the answer, so it’s just about who can get in on the buzzer. So I think that having the speed factor coming from Jeopardy was an advantage. As to the differences I think it’s probably a little more intense staring the other person right in the eye and having an actual clock running where time is going to run out. Obviously in Jeopardy they track time too, so Alex will tell you if there is a minute left in the round. They also did a great job of making it (Grand Slam) very intense with the lighting and the music and all of that great stuff, which (executive producer) Michael Davies is really great at. It really ratcheted up the intensity and made it a lot of fun.
Rutter faces Lingo winner Amy Kelly in the first round of Grand Slam.
B&C:Grand Slam is structured as a tournament and you are the #1 seed based on your career game show winnings, did this add any pressure to you?
Rutter: I don’t think it really added any pressure, I was just there to have fun anyway, I’ve always said that the best things that’s ever happened to me about being on game shows is that I got to meet cool, fun people and there were some that were in Grand Slam that I hadn’t met and that was one of the biggest draws for me.
B&C : Who did you get to meet that you were looking forward to talking to?
Rutter: Oh, let’s see, now I am going to have to disassociate from when I met people, because I know them all now. Ed Toutant was great to meet, because I had seen him in various game show formats, and I got to see all the people I knew again, like Ken (Jennings) Nancy Christie, Kevin Olmstead. It was great to meet Rahim Oberholtzer, he had mentioned he had family in the same area of Pennsylvania that I am from, so that was fun hanging out with him. And also they set it up as kind of a best of the best game show competition, so you can always appeal to my pride there.
B&C: Ken Jennings is the #2 seed in the tournament, did you see him when he was on Jeopardy?
B&C: What did you think when you saw him kind of dominating the competition for a few months?
Rutter: Well at first I was like, wow, I wished they would have changed the rules when I was first on, but then as I saw him keep going on I thought, well, they will probably have a new super-tournament that I might be invited to, so I kind of rooted for them to do that as well at that point.
Check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of the BC Beat Interview: Brad reveals what he was thinking before facing Ken in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, and Brad Rutter… game show host?