Jeopardy's answer to Cal Ripken, iron answerman Ken Jennings, has parlayed his fame as the show's longest-running winner into a game-hosting gig for Comedy Central.
In what could be tabbed the Jarrod route to fame--the Subway guy, only he lost while Jennings gained--the Utah software engineer (which comedy Central keeps reminding us of) is at work on a game show with game guru Michael Davies (Who Wants to be a Millionaire?).
The two will begin work on the show late this summer and likely launch it as a strip in late 2005 or early 2006.
Davies brought Who Wants to be a Millionaire to the U.S. He continues to executive produces the series, now in daytime with Meredith Vieira, who on Friday beat out Alex Trebek for a Daytime Emmy for hosting duties.
He also developed ABC’s Super Millionaire, Wife Swap and Whose Line is it Anyway, Lifetime’s Debt and kids show Disney Presents Bill Nye the Science Guy, among others.
Davies developed cult game hit Win Ben Stein’s Money for Comedy in 1996 as SVP, development, for Buena Vista Productions, and oversaw the pilot of the network’s The Man Show, which ran for seven seasons.
Jennings blitzed through a six-month winning streak on Jeopardy last summer, pocketing $2.52 million in 74 consecutive games – both game show records (Jeopardy had recently switched from a five-and-out policy for winners to a no-limit format that paid off big time for distributor King World and Jennings when following his fortunes--and fortune--became something of a national pastime.
Jennings became a household name and has since made a bunch of TV appearances, including being named one of Barbara Walters’ ten most fascinating people of the year.
He also co-invented two trivia games soon to debut – board game Can You Beat Ken? and CD trivia game Quizzology. Next year, Random House will release a book penned by the gamer about his Jeopardy run and trivia’s place in American culture.
Viacom-owned Comedy Central is currently in more than 87 million homes.
Beyond Davies joking that it would probably include questions and answers, Comedy Central was not providing details on the show, which it said would be released later, or in a nod to the 'net sure to puff up more than one blogger, "as soon as the game show groupies ferret out the format and set the blogs afire with their scurrilous 'scoops.' "