”Get ready for some fun, it’s question No. 1…” If that jingle rings a bell, you probably have fallen victim to You Don’t Know Jack, the hip, irreverent quiz show on CD-ROM that’s been disrupting media-savvy offices across the country and is set to leap onto another kind of screen next year, as a syndicated TV show — a move that has so far eluded most multimedia developers.
”Everybody fell in love with it,” says Mark Gustawes, 24, a former production assistant at Late Show With David Letterman. ”Of course [we] just can’t sit around and play it all day. We’ve got to get some work done.” Similar stories have popped up at The Late Late Show With Tom Snyder, where Snyder recently demonstrated the game on air, and at the San Francisco headquarters of C/NET, which creates websites and TV programming.
At the root of this fervor lies an 800-question trivia blitzkrieg replete with a wisecracking host, a faux studio audience, catchy musical interludes, and satirical commercials. Wittily, often racily, combining pop and high culture, categories include ”Scooby-Doo and Vitamins” and ”Indiana Jones and the Temple B’nai B’rith,” with questions like ”On a very special Blossom, Joey accidentally ingests 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid. According to popular belief, the result would most likely be?” Answer: ”Increased immunity to colds.”
”My advice to my writers,” says Jack producer John Boyden, 24, ”is to write what they know — don’t dive into encyclopedias. Start with TV shows you liked as a kid and go on to things you learned in fourth grade.” The strategy seems to be paying off. Since its release in October, Jack, codeveloped by Berkeley Systems and Jellyvision, has sold more than 100,000 copies. A 400-question supplement was released in April, and a sports edition and a new 800-question volume with celeb appearances are due in the fall.
In the meantime, how does Boyden respond to accusations that Jack is wreaking havoc in the workplace? ”It’s been our secret goal to undermine U.S. corporate productivity, leaving us in control of the world economy,” he declares, summoning the nemeses of a certain canine supersleuth. ”And if it weren’t for you meddling kids, we would’ve gotten away with it.”