Ex-NMHS student follows teacher's path to Jeopardy!
How often have a teacher and his top student appeared on "Jeopardy!"?
And 15 years apart?
Brian McEntee, a former New Milford resident who knows the answers to many a question, isn't sure.
Mr. McEntee flew out to Los Angeles in March to play "Jeopardy!" His appearance will air in late July.
An academic adviser at American University School of International Service, he had applied on line for the game show as a lark.
A Class of 2000 New Milford High School graduate, Mr. McEntee had been a top scholar for Team Waramaug under Mr. Putnam's tutelage.
"I was a freshman, I think, when Brock appeared on "Jeopardy!" You can't solicit any advice from past players," Mr. McEntee said. "But I had to let Brock know I was going to be on the show."
"It was a nice capstone to my academic bowl experience," he said.
Mr. Putnam was not surprised to learn one of his star pupils was following in his footsteps on the game show.
"Brian's a terrific abstract thinker with an excellent memory," Mr. Putnam said. "He was the kind of guy who, after a debate, would drop in my office and chew the subject over. He has a strong intellect but there's any number of way things can go on "Jeopardy!."
Mr. Putnam recalled his one session on the show.
"At first I was impetuous, had trouble with the buzzer, would buzz in too soon. In the second half, I mastered the Questions but had dug myself such a deep hole I didn't make it," he said.
Mr. McEntee cannot divulge the outcome of his performance.
He did say, "It's not like sitting on the couch at home and blurting out the answer. You have to buzz in, think about your timing, think about forming your answer in a question."
From the time Mr. McEntee was contacted in February and told he'd been selected to play, to the actual taping in L.A., "it was like a whirlwind."
"That may have been for the best," he said. "People would ask `How are you going to study?' How could you study?"
"Even if you could study 95 percent of all the things in the world, they could ask that 5 percent you didn't look at," he laughed.
Jeopardy! contestant producer Maggie Speak remembered Mr. McEntee from the taping.
"The most important thing we look for in a contestant is a well-rounded person and someone you'll enjoy watching play the game," Ms. Speak said.
"Brian was a lot of fun, a pleasant guy to be around, up beat," she recalled. "He put everybody in the green room (waiting to go on) at ease."
In the end, for both Mr. McEntee and Mr. Putnam, the Jeopardy! experience was fun, if a little "surrealistic."
"It's such a monumental cultural institution. The idea you're taking part in it is special," Mr. McEntee opined. "When you're there, it's bigger than life but, at the same time, exactly what you expected."
"Even if you could study 95 percent of all the things in the world, they could ask that 5 percent you didn't look at."
New Milford High School graduate on preparations for Jeopardy!