America's favorite trivia game show is looking for its next champions but COVID-19 has changed the way Jeopardy! producers find their contestants.
"It's basically the same concept of an in-person audition, they get the same considerations as if we had been able to see them in person. The only thing they're really missing out on are those awesome buzzers. Right now, it's a pen, it's not as much fun as a buzzer," said Corina Nusu as she clicked a retractable pen.
Nusu and fellow contestant coordinator Glenn Kagan are finding new ways to work from home.
"This literally has only been within the last couple of weeks that we've gotten it down so that, yes we can now get the contestants in," Kagan said. "We are totally amazed by everyone at the Jeopardy! staff who has been working to put this together."
The Jeopardy! team invited KSBY behind-the-scenes of their virtual audition on Zoom.
Using the video-conferencing program, contestants can now play the mock game from the safety of their own homes.
In-person auditions in Southern California and show tapings have been suspended since March due to the health crisis.
Kristin Thomas-McGill is one of nine Central Coast residents who made it to the final Zoom round of the audition.
"I'm originally from Kentucky but I moved out to Santa Barbara because I'm a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara in the history department," Thomas-McGill said in the interview portion of the Zoom audition.
These contestants are some of the over 200,000 people who took the Jeopardy! test online. Anyone is able to take the Anytime Test at literally, anytime.
Nusu and Kagan say they are looking for smart contestants who enjoy playing the game.
"We want people that the home-viewers are going to be rooting for, 'C'mon let's see you win!'" Kagan said.
However, they also hope this audition is a bright spot for those who try out, as everyone eagerly awaits the day when taping in-studio can resume.
"It's so new for us but at the same time, we're so fortunate that we're still able to do these Jeopardy! auditions," Kagan said.
The nine locals who auditioned in early June could be selected to be on the show anytime within the next 18 months. If they are not called, Nusu and Kagan encourage them and anyone interested in competing to take the Anytime Test online.
Also, the Jeopardy! staff shared with KSBY that host Alex Trebek is doing very well and is beating the odds in his fight against pancreatic cancer. They say he can't wait to get back to the studio to record the show.
Jeopardy! airs on KSBY at 7 p.m. weeknights after the news.