Harry Friedman, an Omaha Central grad and now the executive producer of "Jeopardy!", answered questions from Matthew Hansen and other tryout participants.
Q. So how do you go from Omaha to "Jeopardy!"?
A. I saw the power of TV from a young age. My dad ran Aksarben Furniture (a business that started at 15th and Cuming Streets), and then when TV came around it became Aksarben Furniture and TV. ... My dad put a TV in the store window, facing out, and people would crowd outside and watch, even though there was no sound. Later he put in a speaker so they could hear Milton Berle.
Q. How did you break into television?
A. After college (at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), I lived in Kansas City, working in advertising, P.R., a bunch of stuff. I booked bands. I knew I needed to move to New York or L.A., and L.A. was warmer. I started off as a part-time question and joke writer for "Hollywood Squares." I would write this stuff, and then if they picked one, they would pay me $5. And then I became a full-time writer for "Hollywood Squares," and went from there.
Q. Do you find regional differences between what "Jeopardy!" contestants know? Are Nebraskans better or worse at something than Californians?
A. Not as much as there used to be. The Internet, easy access to information, has been the great equalizer. The Northeast used to be the best (region for "Jeopardy!" champions), but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Q. Is Alex Trebek is as nice as he seems on TV?
Q.Would you tell us if he wasn't?