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Episode 26.6 - Jeopardy! 3: Rise of the Machines
February 21

Chico: Hmmm... *points at whole picture* Nailed it. Pic-Ho-Reka!
Robert: 100 points, to Chico. Well done.
Gordon: Also well done - this week's 20 Questions Segment. As you know, Jeopardy featured man vs. computer this week. What you may not know is that there were 170 practice games featuring Watson and previous Jeopardy! players. The host of those demos was not Alex Trebek, but Todd Alan Crain, who is a member of The Onion and is currently on IFC's Onion News Network. It is an honor to have Todd on as our guest. Welcome aboard.
Todd: Thank you for having me.
Chico: 1) How were you approached to do this?
Todd: In early 2009, I shot a TV pilot called EcoFreaks that was (at the time) to be pitched to the National Geographic Channel. The show was done in 2 segments. The first segment featured an environmentally friendly idea that will never catch on in popular culture and the second segment was the opposite — meaning the segment would be about an environmentally conscious concept that will eventually (hopefully) be implemented in America. The first segment we shot was with a group of people called the Freegans (they don't care for this term, but more people have heard of "Dumpster Divers.")

The second segment on our pilot was with a man named David Shepler. He lives in a "Net Zero Energy" home in New Paltz, NY. The house is being built in a subdivision where all 25 plots are being built green. We spent 8 hours together in his house with a camera crew going through all of the elements that qualify this house to be "Net Zero" or, it produces as much energy as it needs to consume in one years time through solar panels on the roof and a geothermal heating system that heats and cools the house depending on what time of the year it is.

David and I hit it off and spent the whole day laughing. I had no idea what he did for a living, it never came up. After the shoot, we stayed in touch and a couple of months later, he called and said, "I'm coming into the city for work, would you like to go out to dinner?" So, we went, had a pitcher of Sangria and had a great time. Then he said, "I have a business question for you." He told me that he worked for IBM and that's all I really understood. Here came the business question: Shepler asked, "Would you be interested in hosting Jeopardy!?"

The first thing out of my mouth was, "Man, this Sangria is good. I thought you asked me if I would be interested in hosting Jeopardy!"

"No, I did, actually."

"Um, YES! Now, WHAT!?"

"All I can say is that I'm working on a project where we may need someone to host Jeopardy! matches."

And, that's all he said about the project. He wasn't able to say anything more than that, and he didn't. I was completely confused, but it didn't matter because I thought I might have an opportunity to do something that I've always dreamed of: to be the host a mass media game show.

A few months, and several arguments later (Shepler, who, as it turned out, was the Project Manager for the Watson/Jeopardy! experience), had to fight with the IBM research team to get me on board. IBM wanted to hire someone in-house to host the games since they were already paying someone as an employee. But, Shepler went to bat for me — countless times - and argued that hiring a "third party" host who would be impartial to both Watson and the contestants outweighed the sense of IBM loyalty and privacy concerns. Jeopardy! liked that idea as well. And, then, the advertising agency wanted to hire someone with a "name" to host these games because of the potential of major press events involved.

Shepler eventually won the battle...all without me knowing what he was going through. He, of course, filled me in on all of the drama after my contract was finalized. To this day, I'm incredibly grateful to my friend's persistence.

And, honestly, it turned out well for everyone. I achieved a major career goal and, in my opinion, IBM has great material to use to showcase their baby. Win-win, really.

So, no. This wasn't a typical audition situation. This job was, essentially, handed to me because of a previous job. This is another prime example of "right place/right time."
Robert: Wow. Great story. 2) Were you a game show fan before you did the practice games?
Todd: In a word: YES! I've always been a game show fan. The funnier the better. I have a comedy background and have always LOVED the quick-witted nature of the game show host. One of my favorite game shows growing up was Press Your Luck. MAN, I loved that show! Just the excitement of watching people answer questions, receive points (spins) for those correct answers and use those points as the number of spins they had on the giant, red, square board...what's NOT to love?! No Whammies, no Whammies, no Whammies..STOP! Another was The Newlywed Game. The contestants were fascinating to me — so willing to reveal such private, and often ridiculous, information about their private lives. Bob Eubanks was SO good at what he did because he KNEW what follow up questions to ask in order to get a response that would be even more insane than what was written on their newly attained spouse's card. There's Jokers Wild, Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune...those topped my list as a kid as well.

But, the BEST game show ever filmed in terms of a crash course in staying on your comic toes was, and will always be, Match Game. I didn't see this much as a kid, I was born late in its run, but nothing has come close to my love of that game. Gene Rayburn was the best ringmaster there ever was, and his circus of celebrity animals kept him on his toes the entire half hour. From the on-screen smoking, the backstage liquid lunches and the biting tongue and razor sharp wit of Charles Nelson Riley, every episode was a potential disaster all reeled in by a man holding an 18 inch microphone who could barely keep it together himself. I find nothing more enjoyable than watching old re-runs of that show in a marathon on GSN. The questions were ridiculously sexual, the responses from the contestants were often so dumb you wondered how they made it through the day without accidentally being killed or killing themselves by making toast while taking a bath.
Gordon: You are a member of the staff of The Onion. 3) Tell us about the journey to being Jeff Tate.
Todd: In 2006, I campaigned to be a part of the satirical fake news web site. When I heard they were going to start doing webisodes, I created a package to take to them with my hosting material (my reel), my headshots and a glossy, 8 X 11, photo-shopped page telling them exactly why I would be a perfect reporter for their web series. With direct quotes from my Mother, my dog and my pimp (it IS The Onion, after all), I was positive they would hire me on the spot.

I packaged all of this material up, ran down to their offices myself, handed it to the receptionist and waited by the phone.

8 months passed.


Then, I started working with an agent who got me an official audition with The Onion (unrelated to my handiwork). I went and auditioned for several different spots. A few weeks later, I found out that I was hired to be the Tech Trends Reporter, "Name To Be Decided."

The first day on the set, I was to shoot three videos for them that would appear on the web site over the next few months. I was told when I arrived I was, "Jeff Tate." From 2007-2010 I filmed 12 videos total for The Onion web series. A few of which, I'm proud to say, have been the most successful videos they've ever produced. Looking at YouTube alone, Jeff Tate's segments have had over 10 million views. And, in 2009, The Onion won a Peabody Award, handed out from Brian Williams (of whom I am a huge fan). Right before we won the award, they showed my MacBook Wheel segment. When the segment finished playing, Brian Williams said, "I'm such a huge fan of these guys."

In late 2010, during my break from Jeopardy! (we played our matches in two separate segments over the course of a year) I was asked to be a part of The Onion News Network on IFC (The Independent Film Channel). The only issue was I wasn't going to be named "Jeff Tate." I was concerned because The Onion has such a loyal following, I wasn't sure how the audience would react to someone they knew from the videos being called a different name. BUT, the genius of our writers came through. They created a story line for "Tucker Hope" (a much more network ‘newsy' name, in my opinion) that made the name change make sense for everyone. The story line they created was: there have been many Tucker Hopes over the years on ONN. I happen to be Tucker Hope #7..."the most popular Tucker Hope to date." The last Tucker Hope was Asian and several before him were old white men. It doesn't matter what your "real" name is, if you are filling that position, you are Tucker Hope.

We are currently awaiting word on our renewal for a second season. IFC has renewed Portlandia (Fred Armisen's show that airs directly after ours), but we have 4 more shows left to air before our first season is complete. We expect to hear something between now and the end of our first season. The Onion has exceeded IFC's expectations, so we're all thinking we'll get renewed. We hope.
Chico: 4) Did working for The Onion help you when it came to hosting the run-thrus? How so?
Todd: Quite the opposite, actually. My two big jobs of 2010 were extremely different from one another. The Onion is a show that makes fun of network news and the people who are "reporting" it. There isn't a group that is "safe" from our writers, so, in a matter of speaking, we are an equal opportunity offender. The material that you see on The Onion News Network on IFC is completely the work of our writers...nothing is left to the improv abilities of the actors.

With Jeopardy!, I came in with a certain skill set that I have been working on for years. Nothing thrills me more than encouraging and supporting someone to the point where they feel great about what they've done in their lives or in the past 10 seconds. I came at each game I hosted with a positive "go out there and give it your all" attitude. If I'd gone in with "prove to me what makes you think you can take on Watson and win," our games would have been highly unsuccessful...miserable to be a part of and miserable to watch. My main goal in hosting every game of Jeopardy! (and, quite frankly, every job I have, without exception) was simple: If I'm not having a good time, then my contestants won't be having a good time. That was it. There was no other way that I could have worked on this project for over a year if I wasn't committed to the fact that I wanted everyone in the room to be having the best possible time watching or playing the game. With that being said, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have had this opportunity. I go to work every day with one goal in mind: have a great time. I know that not everyone can say that. People work for years at jobs they hate. I'm definitely not one of those people.

Here's a story of how my encouragement was a little off-putting for IBM at the beginning: after one of our first matches where we were just playing with IBM contestants, someone from IBM came up to me afterwards and said, very seriously, "Do you have to clap so much?" I realized in that one sentence IBM is not used to working with (what's affectionately called, in this business) "talent." The subject of me being overly enthusiastic and playful with the contestants was a little off-putting to the IBM team. They were used to a research scientist hosting the games in front of other research scientists with research scientist contestants. That doesn't make for good TV, believe me. I made it clear that I wasn't an IBM researcher and that I was going to do my job to the best of my abilities, even if that was extremely different from what IBM had in mind. Eventually, we became VERY good friends because he saw the importance of the psychological effect I was having on our contestants and audience members. It's nerve-wracking to stand behind a podium and go up against a computer system that is clearly better suited to search through millions of documents per second and come up with some obscure response to a well written pun. My job was to make everyone as comfortable as possible while they played against or watched Watson. I am an entertainer. I do my job well and I wasn't going to let anyone tell me that I wasn't doing my job as best I could.
Robert: 5) Did you ever to get to play against Watson?
Todd: Not in the sense that you're asking. But I found myself "playing against" Watson every game I hosted. Watson was bound to say something inappropriate or strange during every game we played, or be so far ahead of everyone else that it was clear he was going to win, or bet so large on a Daily Double and lose it all that it created an opportunity to play WITH Watson in a way that lightened the mood of the room.

My main goal was to have the best possible time I could while I was working. If I had resisted the urge to point out the ridiculous nature of a wacky response Watson had just given or poke fun at Watson's pronunciation of a simple English word, then I wouldn't have been doing my job to the best of my ability.

I said in the PBS-NOVA documentary, "In terms of comic duos, Watson is the best straight man in the business because he doesn't get why his inappropriate answers are funny. You can't write material that good." I meant every word of that. I took advantage of comic situations that presented themselves to me and was guaranteed to be handed a new "golden nugget" within the next 5 minutes of game play. That's how our relationship developed and that's exactly how I wanted it.
Gordon: 6) What other champions played against Watson in the run-thrus?
Todd: The first set of games we played (starting in November of 2009) were with contestants who had been on Jeopardy! at least once. The requirement for us being able to use them was that they lived in the tri-state area (NY, NJ and CT). Jeopardy! gave IBM a list of contestants that lived in the area, IBM contacted those players and asked if they would be interested in playing some "test matches" of the game. They arrived at IBM, sat through a briefing session, filling them in on the background of Watson and how he does what he does. Then, they would come in to our studio (two at a time) and play against Watson while the other contestants sat in the green room and wondered how it was going. After the contestants had all played against Watson one time, they were allowed to stay in the studio and watch the rest of the matches throughout the day. We didn't want anyone to be intimidated by the process of watching Watson play and then having to play against him for the first time. So, the first time our contestants came in to play, they hadn't seen Watson perform.

The second group of games we played (September-December of 2010) were all with ex-Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions contestants. We played more than 60 games and had at least 40 different players. So, IBM was upping their game and pitting Watson against people who had been on the show in a Tournament of Champions. The only requirement was that they couldn't have won a Tournament of Champions match. Jeopardy! prefers to reserve the winners of those matches for future broadcast Tournaments.
Chico: 7) Was Watson as dominant in the run-thrus? Or were contestants able to defeat him?
Todd: We had many contestants beat Watson during our games. The IBM scientists realized which categories Watson struggled with and then eventually improved his algorithms to compensate. It made Watson stronger as a player, but he could still be beaten, as he was many times.
Robert: 8) You've seen the Watson warmups up close. What were you thinking or feeling as you saw the computer up close just go wild on the board like that?
Todd: Our matches were unlike anything ever seen on the broadcast version of Jeopardy! On the broadcast version, you see three humans fending for themselves and trying to out-smart, out-buzz and out-bet the other human players. Everyone is in their own little private compartment routing against the other people.

With our games, something incredibly interesting happened. The game shifted from three humans competing against each other to two humans playing against a highly advanced Question-Answering System. The humans would, essentially, team up against Watson. I can't tell you how many times, during a match, I heard one human contestant say to another upon their discovery of a Daily Double, "You have to bet it all. If I don't win, I want you to." When was the last time you heard that happen on the broadcast version? The sense of "us against him" ran through every game we played. Keep in mind that these are HIGHLY competitive players who are incredibly knowledgeable. Their pride was at stake and they were there to, in most cases, redeem themselves from a (self proclaimed) botched Final Jeopardy response or an incorrect wager on the broadcast version of the show. These people had something to prove to themselves and, a few times, defeat the actual person they played on the show. It's a tight-knit community in the Jeopardy! world. Champions know other champions, great players know other players. It's a much smaller MENSA-type organization that sometimes still get together for Jeopardy! sponsored press event matches. They are great people who have a specialized set of skills that constantly wowed and surprised me.

I was in a constant state of awe at the breadth of knowledge and ability to recall the most obscure facts from material that I had never even heard of. I loved seeing the overwhelming joy the contestants had when they defeated Watson or the person who had beaten them on the broadcast.

On the other hand, I was amazed and proud of Watson when he would run a category. Not necessarily proud of Watson, himself, but of the scientists that programmed him. Their work paid off. The years of research and testing was displayed before my eyes and I felt an utter sense of prideful teamwork with the IBMers. I had nothing to do with the programming of Watson, or the decisions that would change his betting strategy, but I was taken in as one of them because of my role in this project. I was an outsider that was allowed to witness the birth of something extraordinary that would, eventually, have an enormous affect on the entire planet.
Gordon: 9). What was your favorite moment during the 170 game run-thrus?
Todd: October 29, 2010. That was my favorite day of the entire project. I arrived at IBM knowing what was going to happen that day. There was MUCH ado leading up to that set of games. Emails were sent out, rules were established, a detailed schedule was created and everyone kept looking at me waiting for my reaction about the days events.

Alex Trebek was in the house.

For me, this day was special. This day would be a defining moment in my career. This day would also hold a tremendous amount of pressure — not unlike a knife to the throat. I would be hosting 4 games in front of the man who had been hosting this show for the past 26 years (at that point). I scoured over the games in preparation for the days events, making sure I knew exactly what each individual clue was asking, where the emphasis was on each word and which clues gave me an opportunity for a "fun fact" after the correct response was revealed. All of the 244 individual clues for the day were mine. I owned them, inside and out.

I knew that Mr. Trebek was in the building because of the unusually large number of people watching the game. I never saw him before I stood behind my podium. He was secluded, with the IBM executives, in what I called "The Fish Bowl," a glass enclosed room attached to our studio with a sound proof sliding glass door hidden from my view directly around the corner from our game board.

I stood behind the podium and started to explain to my two contestants how this game was going to be different from the game they had played on the broadcast version. We didn't have a time limit, we would play every clue on every board and if you have something to say (funny or otherwise), please feel free. In the middle of my explanation, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man and a camera crew come from around the game board. Initially, I didn't think anything about it because of the large numbers of camera crews we had at some of our sparring matches. Then, I realized that whoever was walking towards my podium was coming at me with his hand outstretched. I turned and there he was. Mr. Trebek.

I stuck out my hand to meet his and every eye in the room was on me.

"Todd, we didn't get a chance to meet before you took your place behind your podium. I just wanted to introduce myself."

"Mr. Trebek, it's an extreme pleasure."

"I just have one piece of advice."

I was pretty sure that everyone in the room could hear my heart beating. I knew I could.

"Don't be too good."

The room erupted with laughter. And, with that, he turned and walked back into the Fish Bowl.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mr. Trebek!" Again, the room was a giggle.

Later in the day, Mr. Trebek asked me how I ended up hosting these games. I told him a much shorter version of the story I mentioned above, and he looked me in the eye and said, "Well, you are very good at what you do. Very good indeed."

In that instant, I knew that I would never forget what had just been said to me. Ever.

The second moment that changed my life was, once again, thanks to Mr. Trebek. During the taping of the first day of the actual broadcast Tournament, the documentary on Watson's test games played and I had made it onto the show. I was sitting across the hall from the actual theater where the broadcast was being taped. It was the room that was my studio for the sparring matches. There were about 50 people in the room watching the taping on monitors, about 25% of which I knew. At the end of the documentary, Watson's icon appeared on screen and the studio audience began to applaud. The shot went back to Mr. Trebek behind the podium and he said, "And, I want to thank Todd Crain, that very talented young man who hosted all of those games."

The room I was in exploded with applause and cheers. These people, most of whom I did not know, knew what that moment meant. They understood what an honor it was to be mentioned, by name, by the man I admired so much and that everyone in the country knew as the host of this iconic television game show. The only thing I could think was, "Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry." That didn't work. My eyes filled with tears and I sat there in shock at what had just happened.

After the taping was over, I made my way into the studio and walked up to Mr. Trebek.

"Hello, Todd."

"Mr. Trebek, I can't thank you enough for what you said. You have single-handedly changed my life."

"Well, you deserve it."

Two days I will never forget. Ever.

Chico: Wow. 10) I noticed that there wasn't any video or audio categories. There also weren't any 'Before or After' or Wordplay categories. Why was this the case?
Todd: Watson, at this point, is blind and deaf. It would have taken another year, at least, to perfect the ability for him to register audio and visual clues, so IBM decided that it was more important to get this technology out in the public eye without delay. It was a rule that there would be no audio/visual clues in the Man vs Machine competition for that very reason.

As for the "Before and After" and Wordplay categories, that was up to the Jeopardy! clue writers. Watson is fully capable of handling clues of that nature, but there simply weren't any for him to play in the random mix of clues selected by the Jeopardy! producers. Luck of the draw, really. There was no reason why there weren't any Wordplay clues, that's just how it worked out.
Robert: 11) Many of the pundits claimed that he 'cheated' for various reasons. What's your thoughts on that?
Todd: I can guarantee you that neither Watson, nor the human players "cheated." The game was played honestly, without any type of favoritism. If Jeopardy! was simply a game of waiting for a light to go on and buzzing in as fast as possible 61 times per game, YES, Watson would most likely win every time. The speed and accuracy of a computer program can not be matched by human precision. That is a simple fact and I will not argue against that.

But, as we are all fully aware, Jeopardy! is not all about the buzzer. I think the real issue is not "do you think he's smart or quick"...the real issue is that Watson can UNDERSTAND. I'm not sure enough emphasis is being placed on what an achievement in modern computing Watson represents. For a human to understand what a Jeopardy! clue is asking for is one thing. For Watson to "understand" what is being asked, is another. Everyone seems to be focusing on the fact that he's "quick on the buzzer." I, honestly, think that everyone is missing the real issue here. A computer, a non-living machine, is capable of "comprehending" a highly advanced sentence created in natural language by a human being.

I feel that ignoring this part of the story is like an alien craft coming to Earth full of aliens who do not know English. The aliens find a way to communicate with an English speaker, teaching us things about our universe that we could not have discovered for centuries and everyone saying, "Yeah, but he's got green skin!" I think this falls under the concept of "the dumbing down of America." Journalists and skeptics are focusing on something that is so unbelievably insignificant. I find this all incredibly insulting and feel that everyone is missing the point of this whole experience. It's not enough that Watson is fast on the buzzer. It's the fact that Watson is sent a text message that literally translates to a bunch of 1's and 0's, he's searching through millions of documents to find the most relevant piece of information that would correctly answer this one question and then is able to verbally respond (in the form of a question, no less) IN ENGLISH with the correct response.

THAT'S your story. THAT'S what should be focused on. NOT the fact that he beat Ken and Brad on the buzzer. That's the LAST thing on which everyone should be focusing. We're better than this. We're smarter than this and we need to focus on the real issue and not something that is the equivalent of what a spoiled housewife in a southern state is doing for lunch.
Robert: 12) Any pointers for people looking to get into "the business" of hosting a game show?
Todd: The one piece of advice that I have given many, many times to young actors (and this is fitting for any profession, not just entertainment), "Figure out exactly what it is that you are better at than everyone else around you." If you have a passion for something, a legal activity that you can be paid for and that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, despite all of the odds, then by all means pursue that. But, with that being said, you better be the best at whatever it is you truly love. Work harder than everyone else to perfect your skills and zero in on what you want and how to achieve that goal. Be open to criticism and advice; don't shut people out because they are critiquing your work. Those bad reviews and moments of praise help you become who you were meant to be. Listen to everything. Become involved in your own life and take control of what you can, taking note of what you can't.

If you are gifted at sculpting ice, than be the best ice sculptor you can possibly be. If you are intelligent and love to care for people, be the best doctor you can be. If you are good at thinking quickly on your feet, hosting game shows and making people feel comfortable around you, find another profession because this one I've got covered.
Gordon: Heh. 13) Did you have any 'geek-out' moments when you went, 'Oh my God, it's Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, (fill in your favorite contestant here)?
Todd: Besides Mr. Trebek, just one; Eddie Timanus. He is an extraordinary man who is incredibly gifted at playing Jeopardy! and, he happens to be completely blind. Eddie was one of our players during our sparring matches and was such a joy to be around. Jeopardy! sent us an audible buzzer activation sound cue that we used in addition to our buzzer light. The game was played the exact same way, but we heard an additional "ding" when our lighting system went on to alert the players it was time to ring in. Watching Eddie play against Watson was outstanding television, in my opinion, and something that I'm so proud to have been a part.
Gordon: I'm sure Eddie will appreciate that. He's a fan of the site and I hope we'll be hearing something from him after he reads this.
Chico: 14) Did you think the end results would be as it was, or did you think there would be a different outcome?
Todd: I wasn't sure of the outcome of the game before it started. I was nervous for the IBM research scientists that had poured their lives into a project that had no guarantee of coming off as well as it did. They were all a wreck the day of the taping, more so than I had seen them be the entire year. January 14th was, for them, the Academy Awards, The Olympic Games and the NASCAR Grand Prix all at the same time. They had one horse in the race and their pride and self esteem was on the line in front of the whole world...namely, the other technology companies across the globe who were, no doubt, hoping that Watson would crash and burn beyond recognition. IBM achieved what no other computer company has even come close to achieving.
Robert: 15a) What was your thoughts when Ken Jennings beat Watson on Day #3, but didn't have enough to overtake Watson when he won the tournament?
Todd: Before Mr. Trebek revealed the Final Jeopardy category on day 3 of the Tournament, you saw a quick shot of the players. If you looked closely enough, you saw Ken grab a piece of paper that was on his podium. Ken knew the outcome of the whole Tournament according to the scores he had written on that paper from the previous game. He knew there was almost no chance of beating Watson because of the cumulative score from both games, which is why he wrote what he did under his correct response in Final Jeopardy for that game. Ken's a great guy with a fantastic sense of humor. If you are on Twitter, I highly recommend following him--he's got great things to say (under and over 140 characters).
Gordon: 15b) What's your thoughts on having a computer as the new overlord and master?
Todd: I completely appreciate the Terminator references when people speak of Watson. Watson has become a member of popular culture with Conan, Jon Stewart and other comedians poking fun at what he's achieved. There is no greater honor than being the butt of someone's jokes...especially when everyone understand the Watson reference.

Watson was designed to be a tool for our use just like the laptop on which I'm writing the responses to your questions. He's got no hidden agenda. He's not creating his own agenda. He's got no feelings or dreams of his own, so I'm not too worried about him taking over and becoming our master. After all, we created the material that uses for his references. Humans did that. He didn't.

I'll leave the unscientific doom theories to those whose lives revolve around such things. Like I mentioned before, you have to know what you're good at to succeed in any business. Unscientific doom theorists are experts at what they do, no matter how ridiculous the rest of us may find them.
Gordon: And now the 5 questions we ask everybody. 16) Favorite game show, past or present?
Todd: Jeopardy, of course.
Gordon: 17) Favorite game show host, past or present?
Todd: Alex Trebek.
Gordon: 18) Let's say you want to try out for a game show, but as a contestant. Which one do you go for?
Todd: I'm a fan of Chain Reaction, hosted by Dylan Lane on GSN. I like word/puzzle games, myself. I was actually on a flight to Florida a couple of weeks ago to host a Watson game at an event for computer programmers called Lotusphere and Dylan was across the aisle from me on the plane. I didn't talk to him, but found it a strange coincidence that two game show hosts were on the same flight.
Gordon: 19) If you could remake one show from the past, which one would it be and why?
Todd: Clearly, my love of Match Game would be the one that I would choose. I would love to host that game with the comedians and writers that do the Comedy Central roasts. That would be an amazing opportunity. I know that there was an attempt to bring that show back on the air, but, honestly, it was a horrible, horrible, half-hearted attempt. We are in a satirical comedy period right now (thus, the success of The Onion) and I think the show would be highly successful...as long as the comedians were as good as the ones on the roasts. It wouldn't work with comedians that didn't have that comic bite, I don't think. And, of course, this show would NEVER work on network TV...it would have to run on cable somewhere. The type of adult language I would like to encourage our "panelists" to use wouldn't be received well on network TV.
Gordon: 20) Finally, it's Todd time. Anything you want to say or add that we may have missed?
Todd: I would like to remind everyone to watch The Onion News Network on IFC (The Independent Film Channel), 10 p.m. EST every Friday night. It's a great show with great comic writing and, it will be something that I'll (hopefully) be a part of for a long time. If you are on Facebook, Tucker Hope—the character I play—has a fan page, "LIKE" the page and follow Tucker and I on Twitter (@TuckerHopeONN and @ToddAlanCrain). Let me know what you think of The Onion and of the Watson experience! I look forward to hearing from you. And, of course, my website is http://www.toddalancrain.com.
Gordon: Todd, this has been a great interview. Thank you very much for your time.
Todd: Thanks for asking me something about my experience with Watson. I knew from the beginning that this whole project wasn't really about me, so when someone shows some interest in my part of the Jeopardy! journey, I'm more than happy to talk about it.
Gordon: Thanks again Todd. When we come back, Chico does something Watson can't possibly do. What is it? Find out after the break...
Chico: You'd LOVE to know that, wouldn't you?
Gordon: I do. Hopefully something not involving cherry stems and a garter.

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