Havre Daily News
This Havre native traveled to Los Angeles to be a contestant on “Jeopardy.”
Who is Jessica Liese?
That is correct.
Tune in on March 23 to see the episode featuring Liese, who grew up in Havre and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her mother, Sue Ost, and her stepfather, Allan Ost, both of Havre, met the 26-year-old in California and attended a taping on Feb. 28.
“I've always wanted to do it, since the show first started when I was very small. I started answering questions correctly at 7 and beating my parents at about 10,” Liese said in a telephone interview from Brooklyn, where she works for a magazine publisher.
Allan Ost said Liese competed in spelling bees and geography bees when she was younger.
“She's always been a competitor. She's always been a whiz kid. I guess all those things add up to ‘Jeopardy,'” he said Monday.
She has been trying to get on the show for about 10 years.
Liese said she had told a friend, who had competed on “Jeopardy,” that it was her dream to be on the show and her friend forwarded Liese's e-mail address to the show's recruiters. She received a message when show representatives would be in New York.
“I don't think there is anything I could be doing that would be as important as that meeting,” Liese said.
Testing included about 50 oral and written questions. She said out of her testing group of about 55 people, nine passed.
Liese was given a buzzer-shaped pen to use when practicing. When she would watch the show at home, she would stand 15 feet from the television screen and practice with the pen to time her buzzing with the end of the question. She said she also had to train herself to answer in the form of a question, because when she watched at home she always just blurted out the answer.
Liese said she liked that the audience wasn't very large and she didn't really notice the cameras.
She was afraid that having her parents in the crowd would make her nervous.
“I thought it would bring back memories of me being nervous in the eighth-grade spelling bee, but it didn't,” Liese said.
Liese was born and raised in Havre. She moved to New Hampshire at the beginning of her sophomore year to attend St. Paul's School, a private, college-preparatory boarding school in Concord. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a bachelor's degree in history in 2001.
Sue Ost said she had a lot of fun at the show and found the taping process interesting. Five shows are recorded in one day. Before taping begins, contestants do practice games and interviews, so they are ready when the cameras are on, she said. Participants bring four extra outfits and the winner of the game, along with host Alex Trebek, has a few minutes to change before “the next day's competition,” she said.
Guests of the contestants sit in a separate section from the games' participants and studio audience. Competitors are told not to acknowledge their friends and family members or they could be disqualified. Sue Ost said her daugther was reprimanded for smiling at her but luckily wasn't kicked out.
“It was hard for us, because we were used to yelling out the answers,” Sue Ost said about the taping.
The family is not allowed to divulge any specifics of the competition.
Sue Ost said she hopes Havreites support Liese by watching the show. A “hometown howdy” - a short greeting introducing Liese - will be available on the show's Web site the week of March 20.
“If we told everybody what happened, they wouldn't watch and it would not be nearly as fun to watch,” she added.
Liese said Trebek was very friendly and good at making the contestants feel at ease.
“You know at the end of the show when Alex is talking with the contestants, he really does have a conversation with you. I thought it would be intimidating, but he was really friendly,” she said.
Liese said she considers “Jeopardy” the “crown jewel of game shows,” but she might try her luck on another show.
“‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' tapes in New York - so you never know,” she said with a laugh.