Meet our director, Kevin McCarthy. For 27 years, Kevin has faithfully led the team in the Jeopardy! control booth that brings the live-to-tape show from the stage to your television. With his start as an associate director at the inception of the show’s daily syndication in 1984, he has edited every show, minus just one season. That’s more than 7,000 shows and counting!
Kevin was promoted to director by Merv Griffin himself in 1991. Here’s a glimpse of him at work, making edits “on the fly” and calling the dozens of shots that make up every single show.
The Jeopardy! stage control room is equipped with multiple monitors carrying feeds from every camera, graphic, video bank and contestant podium. In this room, Kevin leads a team of 10 to produce five shows on each day of taping.
In the morning, before the contestants arrive for taping, Kevin is among the first to arrive at Stage 10 on the Sony Pictures Studio lot, where Jeopardy! has been taping since 1994. As the stage crew gets all the lights and cameras ready, Kevin is already at work preparing the video clues for the day’s shows, setting cue points and making sure all audio and visuals line up.
The day doesn’t officially kick off until the morning production meeting, led by coordinating producer Bob Sofia (seen standing under the clock with a cup of coffee). Bob runs through the day’s hot sheet with the team, which lists all activities on the stage for the day (additional to the show), such as capturing promotional lines read by Alex Trebek or conducting interviews with streaking contestants.
After rehearsal games with the contestants, where Kevin and the crew do practice runs, the shows start taping. The control room crew has been doing this for so long that it is second nature. Every cut, clue and camera angle flow seamlessly throughout the show, from Johnny Gilbert’s intro to the final fade to black. There are always a few corrections, but as a live-to-tape show, there is very little that changes from the taping to the actual show that goes on air.
At some point during the taping, Jimmy from the Clue Crew comes by with a list of people from the audience who have special, personal stories to share about Jeopardy! We gather these J!Effect stories from every studio audience and share them periodically on our website and social channels.
Kevin and stage manager John Lauderdale are glued at the ear. If anything goes awry, they are in close communication throughout the show. For example, whenever you hear Alex say, “Less than a minute to go,” that’s a message sent from Kevin to John and relayed to Alex via an offstage hand signal.
On non-production days, Kevin will do a first edit of each show with post production editor Keith Fernandes. Noting timecodes from the show, they get the show to the exact amount of time allotted for broadcast. Pauses that may have happened during the taping are removed to allow for as much gameplay as possible. Then the show gets taken to editing facilities for the addition of commercials and any graphics needed for the final cut.
Kevin has the direction of a Jeopardy! show down to a perfect formula, guiding fans through the action of the game without missing a beat. To get a closer look, watch Kevin in action during a day of taping in our video, “Jeopardy! From the Control Room.”