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The final Jeopardy answer is: politics

And the question is: What helped ex-Oldsmar City Council member Rosemary Wiseman be ready for the quiz show?

By CRAIG PITTMAN and ED QUIOCO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


OLDSMAR -- Rosemary Wiseman figures her years of being grilled by residents while she was a City Council member prepared her for fielding questions from the famous quizmaster Alex Trebek, host of the television game show Jeopardy.

Wiseman was a contestant on the game show Tuesday night. Although she did not win, she accumulated $2,800 by the final round and correctly answered questions about everything from the biggest city in Iowa (Des Moines) to the name of a famous supernatural soap opera (Dark Shadows).

"Once you have been a City Council member, you are prepared for a lot of stuff," said Wiseman, who served on the council from 1992 to 1996 and held the post of vice mayor.

During an early break in the action, Trebek quizzed Wiseman about Oldsmar.

"Small town?" he asked. "I've never heard of it."

Wiseman explained that Oldsmar is between Tampa and Clearwater, at the top of Tampa Bay. She also told him that the city was founded by Ransom E. Olds, the developer of Oldsmobile.

Wiseman said the Jeopardy staff initially told her that Trebek was going to chat with her about something else, so she was a little surprised when the host asked her about Oldsmar. But she's glad she got a chance to plug the city on national television.

"I didn't want to talk about my Smoky Mountain vacation anyway," said Wiseman, 46. "I'm glad I was able to promote the city. I'm proud of Oldsmar."

Wiseman nailed two questions about the life of author Joseph Heller and she correctly answered a Double Jeopardy question about who had been postmaster of the American colonies (Ben Franklin).

Although the show was aired Tuesday night, Wiseman said it was taped in February. She qualified to be on the show after attending a contestant search about a year ago in Miami Beach. She said she has watched Jeopardy for years and has always dreamed of competing on the show. She believes her love of reading is the secret to her knowledge of trivia.

"I was glad I was able to achieve my goal of being on the show," she said. "Naturally, I would have hoped for a better outcome. But it was still fun."

She faced four-time champion Alan Everett Taber, a mechanical engineer from Lancaster, Calif., who won $46,100. And the questions were tougher than she was expecting.

"I've watched a lot of Jeopardy and I've never seen categories that tough," she said.

The toughest question, she said, was the last one about a book called Built from Scratch, and the clue concerned "how Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank remodeled this chain founded in 1978."

She bet everything and answered, "What is Ben & Jerry's?"

The correct answer: Home Depot.

Taber, the four-time champion, also got it wrong. Dan Felsenheld, a marketing manager from Arlington, Va., won the show with a total of $5,601.

"I'm at least comforted that the four-time champion didn't know it either," she said.

Her consolation prize was an $800 gift certificate for lobster.

Wiseman said her next goal is to appear on Who Want's To Be a Millionaire so she can be quizzed by host Regis Philbin. She's called the show's contestant line every day hoping to qualify for the show.

"I'm dumping Alex and going for Regis," she said. "Regis is the man."

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