Harry Friedman is one of television’s most prolific producers, having produced more than 6,000 episodes of the two most enduring and successful syndicated programs of all time, Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY!. Friedman’s success is marked by his ability to maintain the tradition of the long-running shows, while tweaking each just enough to keep them current and on the cutting edge.
Leading Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! to win the industry’s highest honors has earned Friedman two Guinness World Records®. He is the Guinness World Record holder for both most Emmy® Award nominations for a game show producer with 40 and most Emmy® Award wins by a game show producer with 12. In 2011, both shows tied for the Outstanding Game Show award, and Friedman became the first producer ever to win two Emmys in the same category in a tie with himself.
In 2007, Friedman was honored by the National Association of Television Program Executives with the prestigious Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award. Later that year, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
Named a 2012 Daily Variety Daytime TV Impact Honoree, Friedman is known for staying ahead of the curve with innovative game elements and incorporating the latest technology. In September 2006, both shows made television history when they became the first syndicated programs to broadcast in High Definition. Friedman has also championed the development of Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! extensions for mobile devices, along with versions for Facebook, Nintendo’s Wii and Playstation.
A native of Omaha, Neb., Friedman developed an early fascination with television programming and personalities, including a young, local celebrity named Johnny Carson. Long before the concept of student internships was created, Friedman began hanging around Omaha’s first television stations, learning by watching and doing whatever management permitted.
While attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Friedman also worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Lincoln Star newspaper.
In 1971, Friedman arrived in Los Angeles and, without contacts, gave himself six months to find a job in the business. With less than 24 hours remaining on his self-imposed deadline, he talked his way into a part-time question-writer spot on “Hollywood Squares,” marking the beginning of his long, valued relationship with Heatter-Quigley Productions. Over the following 11 years, Friedman wrote and produced thousands of episodes of the popular series and was also actively involved in the development of several other game shows, including “Gambit” and “High Rollers.” He first joined Wheel of Fortune as a producer in 1995, adding producer duties for JEOPARDY! in 1997.
In 1998, he helped launch Rock & Roll JEOPARDY!, which aired on the VH1 network. Friedman’s other writing and producing credits range from network primetime specials, such as “American Yearbook” for CBS, to documentaries and home video. He also has worked with such companies as FOX, Dick Clark Productions, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, Buena Vista Television/ABC, Orion Television, The Playboy Channel, Laurel Entertainment, Vin Di Bona Productions, A&E Network, Krofft Productions, Rosner Television and Four Star Productions.
A member of the Writers Guild of America-West and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Friedman lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
Under Friedman’s direction, the hit series JEOPARDY! has become the most honored syndicated game show in television history. In 2011, Friedman guided JEOPARDY! to win its first-ever Peabody Award. The awards panel credited the show for its role in “encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge.” JEOPARDY! has won a total of 31 Emmy Awards, including the 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Game Show.
Friedman has continued to broaden the show’s scope with an expanded list of challenging categories and clues that reflect popular culture and a variety of special tournaments. In 2003, he lifted JEOPARDY!’s five-day limit rule for contestants, allowing returning champions to continue amassing winnings as long as they remain victorious. This rule change led the way for the memorable 74-consecutive-day run of Utah software engineer Ken Jennings, during which he won a record $2.5 million. Series viewership increased an impressive 30 percent during the streak, at times outperforming primetime programs while making it one of the most talked-about shows in the country.
In 2011, Friedman oversaw “JEOPARDY! The IBM Challenge,” a historic competition that pitted two of the show’s most successful and celebrated contestants – Jennings and Brad Rutter – against an IBM computer named Watson. Thanks to this unique partnership, JEOPARDY! served as a vital testing ground for the next generation of artificial intelligence. The three-day exhibition matches scored the series’ highest ratings in five years, surging 30 percent from the previous year, making Watson a pop culture icon and a part of the American lexicon.
Friedman’s ideas have reached far beyond the famous Stage 10 at Sony Studios where JEOPARDY! is taped. He was instrumental in the creation of the Clue Crew, a team of roving correspondents who travel the world delivering visual clues for the millions of viewers back home. Additionally, Friedman plays a very active role in JEOPARDY!’s digital and social initiatives, including Jeopardy.com, Facebook and Twitter.