Ken Jennings rears his nerdy head

Talk about biting the hand that fed you. Ken Jennings, who in 2004 broke the all-time Jeopardy! records for consecutive wins (74) and prize money ($2.5 million-plus), has slammed the game show in an open letter posted on his Web site. (The site itself seems to have crashed due to traffic.) His basic complaint: that the show is culturally out of touch. “Maybe when Art Fleming was alive, America just couldn’t get enough clues about ‘Botany’ and ‘Ballet’ and ‘The Renaissance,’” Jennings writes. “But come on. Does every freaking category have to be some effete left-coast crap nobody’s heard of, like ‘Opera,’ or, um, ‘U.S. History’ or whatever?” Actually, I think “Opera” would be effete right-coast crap. There’s no opera in El Lay. But to the bigger point, he goes on: “Wake me up when you come up with something that middle America actually cares about.” Ouch. Jennings (who, you may remember, was courted to be a commercial endorser after ending his Jeopardy! run on a question about H&R Block) has some suggestions for better categories. The top two: PlayStation and the Arby’s 5-for-$5.95 Value Menu. Gosh, Ken, if you ever quit software developing and Mormon Church proselytizing, you might want to consider marketing. You’d be a natural at branded entertainment. UPDATE: Jennings is now emphasizing that his little screed was just a joke. “Making goofy jokes about TV shows isn’t ‘bashing,’” he says. “I believe it’s the whole reason Al Gore invented the Internet.”

—Posted by Steve McClellan