And do it she did. She started out by taking and passing the online test. (Forget about Google—you only have five seconds in which to answer each question!) After clearing that first hurdle, the native New Yorker—who now divides her time between Wilmington and Philadelphia—took the bus to Manhattan for the in-person group interview this past October. Show staffers simulated studio conditions—buzzers and all—to see how candidates do. Obviously, Jane passed muster; at the end of January, she was on a flight to Los Angeles to tape the show.
Her adventure began in earnest at 7:00 AM on a Tuesday morning as the Jeopardy! van arrived at her hotel to take her to Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. When the gate came up at the entrance, reality set in, but instead of being nervous, it was pure excitement. "They tape five shows on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. You have to bring a change of clothes in case you win, so it looks like you've come back on a different day." Luckily, Jane had the chance to wear two outfits, as she emerged victorious on her first time out but lost on the second.
They prepare you well, according to Jane: "We were coached on how to buzz in. You have to wait until Alex Trebek is finished reading but you can't wait too long or someone else will beat you to the punch." The staff also reviewed some of the rules; for example, the least you can bet is $5.00 and you can't plug a product or mention your employer. You're then selected from a pool of people that are matched up against the returning champ. Jane's name wasn't drawn until the third show was taped. After that, it's make-up, microphones, and go-time.
As viewers know—you don't only have to be knowledgeable; you have to think fast. Plus, there's an element of luck. "I was an English Literature major in college and one category was Shakespeare, so that was fortunate," but she also looked for the "clue within the clue." In her first Final Jeopardy, the category was "Scary Movies," not her strong suit. The answer: "The remake was released on June 6, 2006, 30 years after the original." Jane realized the date was 6/6/06 (i.e., Satan) and correctly wrote, The Omen
. A little over $18,000 richer after the two shows, the very happy Jane then headed for home.
Oh—and in case you're wondering what she and Alex chatted about in the mini-interview after the first commercial, he asked her if bonds were a good investment. She said, "Yes, if they're investment-grade, or high quality, and you can hold onto them until maturity." Smart woman. But we already knew that.