Longtime Jeopardy! viewers know not to expect much from the show’s annual celebrity showdowns, but this week’s “Power Players” charity tournament promised slightly more impressive displays of trivia knowledge. At least, it started off that way on Monday with Jonathan Franzen, S.E. Cupp, and Chuck Todd all making it to Final Jeopardy! with five-digit “earnings.” But Tuesday’s contestants—Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan, and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele—floundered in every round, making us wonder if anyone’s charity would get the $50,000 grand prize.
Lest you think we’re judging them too harshly, no one knew that “You had me at ‘hello’” was a quote from Jerry Maguire, though Logan at least knew it had been said to Tom Cruise. They all but declined to participate in the sports-related category, which is fine because everyone has a pop culture blindspot. But then they also demonstrated a lack of knowledge of politics (specifically, the Reagan administration), as well as literature and science (all wrapped up in one query about The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks).
Things didn’t get much better in Double Jeopardy, as Cooper rang in on clues only to blank on the corresponding questions. And his underwhelming performance must have gotten to him, because he snapped at Alex Trebek at one point—when the knowledge guardian implied that he hadn’t phrased his answer in the form of a question, Cooper sniffed “No, I said it.” His competitors had similar struggles, with Logan occasionally trying to pantomime her answers. For his part, Steele rang in on a handful of questions, though he only managed to answer a few of them correctly. His response in the final round seemed to describe where their minds had gone—somewhere “far, far away.”