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Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune to tape without audiences over coronavirus concerns

(Photo: Screen capture from Jeopardy! broadcast/Sony Pictures Television/The Desk)

Two popular game shows produced by Sony Pictures Television will tape without studio audiences in the coming weeks over concerns about mass gatherings during an outbreak of coronavirus.

Both “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” will begin taping without audiences on Tuesday, according to a report from entertainment gossip website TMZ.

The report relied on information provided by sources who identified only as production workers on the shows.

Sources told TMZ a number of factors were considered over whether or not to continue to allow audiences as the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues in the United States. Both shows tape in California where the first known case of unknown community transmission of COVID-19 was reported in mid-February.

Audiences for both shows tend to skew older, the sources said. Health officials have warned those who are elderly with certain pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19. Many of those in the audiences of both shows tend to visit from out of town, adding to the studio’s concern. It was not clear what impact this would have on both shows picking contestants, as they also tend to be from various parts of the country.

For Jeopardy!, the health of host Alex Trebek was also considered. Trebek has been fighting a year-long battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, and sources told TMZ his immune system has been weakened by prolonged treatment, including chemotherapy sessions.

It was not immediately clear how long both shows intended to tape without audiences. The shows tend to tape episodes back-to-back and several weeks in advance of their scheduled airings, meaning ordinary television viewers likely won’t see the change for some time.

Late Monday, the Centers for Disease Control issued a special warning to those over the age of 60 urging them not to attend public events and stay home as the number of those infected with COVID-19 continues to rise.

For accurate and reliable information about the coronavirus COVID-19, click or tap here to visit the World Health Organization’s website.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).