Q: The current "Jeopardy!" champion, James Holzhauer, has racked up more than $1.6 million and is going strong. I wondered how his compensation is paid. Is he given installments until he loses, or must he wait until the end of his run?
A: Apparently he has to wait not only until the end of his run, but until his last show airs — which could be months after it was taped. That, according to various reports, keeps contestants from violating signed agreements not to reveal the outcome of their performance until after audiences have had a chance to see it.
And the check may take still longer to arrive. Newsweek.com noted recently that one winner this year was told her check would arrive 120 days after her last telecast.
Q: There was a special years ago called "Amahl and the Night Visitors." Any idea what happened to it? I haven't seen it in years.
A: "Amahl," which aired for the first time on NBC on Christmas Eve 1951, was composed by Gian Carlo Menotti and is considered the first opera written especially for television. About a boy who encounters the Three Wise Men on their way to the infant Jesus, the hourlong show was sponsored by Hallmark, setting the stage for its "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentations in ensuing decades. "Amahl" drew raves, won a Peabody Award and became a holiday season perennial (in live and taped renditions) for 15 years. There were also staged theater productions around the country.
But Menotti was unhappy with a 1960s production that he had neither supervised nor approved in advance and refused to allow further TV presentations when he regained the rights to the opera. Menotti and NBC did agree to a new telecast in 1978, with him as music director. It was not a success. Still, companies continue to stage "Amahl." And you can find various versions online; YouTube has 1951's and 1978's. There's also a DVD of a 1955 telecast.
'Lost World' will stay lost
Q: There was a show a few years ago called "The Lost World." It lasted three seasons. The last episode ended by saying "To be continued," but it never did. Could you find out why?
A: The officially titled "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World" aired from 1999-2002. According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows," there was supposed to be a fourth season "but the producers ran into financial problems that prevented its continuing in production."
It was even worse than that: Told a fourth season would happen, writers on the show built a cliffhanger into the third season finale and began extensive planning for a fourth run. While the fourth did not happen, there's a long written discussion of what the writers had in mind at reeves-stevens.com/TLWSUMMARY1. pdf.