Federal Federal File

Potent Notables

By David J. Hoff — October 17, 2006 1 min read
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The roster of stars to appear on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” next month includes TV actors, CNN anchors, the winner of the 2006 “Dancing with the Stars” competition, and … Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

Ms. Spellings will be the only public official to appear in the 10 celebrity episodes of the fast-paced, answer-and-question game show, in which three luminaries compete for cash grants to the charities of their choice.

Further information on the Celebrity Jeopardy! shows is posted by the shows official Web site.

Being secretary of education doesn’t quite radiate the star power of the likes of Sam Waterston, a longtime cast member of “Law & Order” on NBC, CNN anchors Nancy Grace and Soledad O’Brien, or Drew Lachey, a member of the defunct boy band 98 Degrees, who bested other celebrities in ABC’s ballroom-dancing contest show earlier this year.

But “Jeopardy!” producers decided to invite Ms. Spellings, a spokesman for the show said, after reading a question-and-answer feature in The New York Times Magazine, in which the secretary said she was envious that two then-Bush administration officials, Ari Fleischer and Christine Todd Whitman, had appeared on the game show when it featured Washington powerbrokers in 2004.

“I’m a big ‘Jeopardy!’ fan,” Ms. Spellings said in the May 22, 2005, issue of the magazine. “Love it!”

She added that if she were to face questions about sports on the show, she would “get them all wrong.”

The secretary probably could have aced a category on the No Child Left Behind Act, but it’s unlikely that the show would have put that up on the board.

Ms. Spellings taped her appearance on Oct. 8., in which she competed against actors Hill Harper, from “CSI: NY” on CBS, and Michael McKean, who has appeared in the satirical movies “This Is Spinal Tap,” “A Mighty Wind,” and “Best in Show.” The “Celebrity Jeopardy!” episode will air stations throughout the country on Nov. 21.

Producers of the show, which is produced by Sony Pictures, and Department of Education officials refused to drop hints about what topics Ms. Spellings had to answer or even how she placed.

But the show did promise that each celebrity contestants would earn at least $25,000 for a charity of his or her choice.

Ms. Spellings’ winnings will go to ProLiteracyWorldwide, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based group operating reading programs for adults throughout the world.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 2006 edition of Education Week

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