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'Jeopardy!' to tape college tourney at Pitt

| Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2004

Alex Trebek plans to put college students into "Jeopardy!" -- in the most positive way -- with the filming of the 2004 College Championship at the University of Pittsburgh.

The 17th annual competition featuring 15 students still being chosen from around the country will be held Oct. 9 and 10 at the Petersen Events Center at the Oakland campus.

"With about 1,000 students competing for a spot on the show, it would be hard to believe that one of them won't be from Pittsburgh," Trebek, host of the show, said Monday in the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown. He admitted that is not guaranteed, but added, "You do have such fine schools here."

Besides providing the opportunity for students to participate, the tapings also will open the doors to about 12,000 audience members.

The TV host said the shows will be taped in two sessions each day -- one with three shows and one with two. An audience of 3,000 will attend each session.

A special set will be designed that will reflect the staging at the Petersen center and Pittsburgh, he added.

"Pittsburgh is no ordinary city," he said. "You come out of the tunnels and, wow, there it is. The confluence of the rivers. The hillsides that are all topped with green. You have the world by the tail here."

The season's college champion is guaranteed a minimum $100,000 and a trophy. The second-place contestant is guaranteed $50,000 and the third-place winner gets $25,000.

Trebek said Pittsburgh was chosen because of its number of institutions and also because representatives of WPXI-TV have been lobbying for it.

"And between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gives us our best ratings ratings across the country," he added.

Besides the college championship, he said, the show that has won 24 Emmy awards since 1984 visits other cities about twice a year to add variety to its tapings. Those efforts always generate a great deal of enthusiasm, he said.

"But the college championship is the most fun," he said.

Ticket applications for the taping will be available beginning Monday at Cricket and Subway outlets.

Details: www.jeopardy.com and www.wpxi.com for student tryouts.

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