Could you tell us about your charity?
Um, I'm involved with, uh, Clothes Off Our Back is my charity, because I am the founder of an online auction--which is what Clothes Off Our Back is. We sell celebrity clothing and memorabilia to benefit children's charities.
What would winning $1,000,000 mean to your charity?
Oh! It would mean so much. We've raised, uh, over $4 million since 2002 when we started. And what we like to do is remind people that, um, right now we're raising money for malaria, for nets and malaria, and a--a net costs $10. So you can imagine what you can do. Feeding America is another one of our, uh, beneficiaries this year. It's a food bank in the United States. It's going to feed so many people. And um, one charity we're also, uh, uh, raising money for this year is Hope North. They rehabilitate child soldiers in Uganda. So, um, this kind of money will change the life of--of many children that, uh, that we help support.
Are you the Jeopardy! champ in your house?
I love Jeopardy! Jeopardy!'s always one of those--I--I remember nursing my daughter and just being so addicted, so I knew that at 7 o'clock it was time to nurse my baby and watch Jeopardy! So I think it's all in their blood now. Um, but yeah, I'm--I'm the Jeopardy! champ.
Are you more or less nervous to play Jeopardy! this time?
I'm much more nervous this time. I think because when it's--when it's your first time doing it, y'know, you really don't know what to expect. Now you remember a couple of tricks that worked. You remember--I can still remember questions that I blew, and, um, and they haunt you. We were talking about that with some of the other contestants. People really remember what it is that was their downfall.
What does winning Celebrity Jeopardy! mean to you?
I am so happy! I've been addicted to Jeopardy! for most of my life, and, um, I can't believe I won! I ca--I think I have had two dreams in my life: to win Jeopardy! and to win the Miss America pageant. So I think if I can shave about forty years off me, and about forty pounds, I might also have a shot at Miss America! [Laughs]
Was there a point when you knew the game was "in the bag"?
No. Because the last time we played, at Radio City Music Hall--which was such a thrill, with 5,000 people there--I was quite a bit ahead, and I blew it in that final question--the Final Jeopardy! question. So, um, I had to put on my--my math hat, my arithmetic hat, and kind of figure out what that was. And I--my hand was shaking so hard when I was figuring out my wager... [laughs] my math skills aren't so good. Um, so no, you never know. And that--the corn threw a lot of us. We couldn't figure out... And Alex reminded me, I was really thinking of George Cukor. And I put "Frank Capra". So, um, I'm glad I put the wrong person.
Did you have a particular strategy that helped you win?
I profess to have a secret about the button. And it's going to go with me to my grave. Uh, actually, it was taught to me by my friend's father, who was on Jeopardy!, uh, Alex O'Neill, several years ago, but he told me a little something, and, um, [mimes zipping lips and throwing away the key]...
What was the best part of your Celebrity Jeopardy! experience?
Realizing that despite advanced menopause, I still have a memory. That--Robin and I were talking about--is, you--we get to a certain age, uh, the ladies, and things go out of your head--your children's names! Forget about where your car keys are! So, the thought that you can still kind of focus and come up with some of these answers is, um... it is a real relief.
What advice do you have for other contestants?
Do you know what? It is funny--because if you get--if you concentrate on--if you just trust that you do know the answers--trust that you know the answers. Um, and a lot of times you do, except if it's Henry V instead of Henry IV. I went to the Yale School of Drama. I'm supposed to know the history plays by Shakespeare. Um, I've got some explaining to do!
"She went from playing a hard-nosed mom in Malcolm in the Middle to playing hard-nosed judge Trudy Kessler in the TNT legal drama Raising the Bar. Here is..."
Playing on behalf of Clothes Off Our Back.
Jane Kaczmarek starred for seven years in the Emmy Award-winning TV series Malcolm in the Middle. She was nominated for seven consecutive Emmy Awards, as well as numerous Golden Globe and SAG Awards and has won the American Comedy Award and the Television Critic’s Award for two consecutive years, the first woman to ever receive such an honor.
Kaczmarek stars in the TNT drama series Raising the Bar as Judge Trudy Kessler. Iconic television producer Steven Bochco developed this show based on the real life of a Bronx defense attorney. Raising the Bar’s pilot episode premiered as the highest-rated cable television debut in basic cable history.
Kaczmarek also starred on the ABC comedy Help Me, Help You opposite Ted Danson. Other television appearances include Felicity, Equal Justice, Paper Chase: The Second Year, Party of Five, Frasier, The Practice, St. Elsewhere, and Hill Street Blues. Film credits include Pleasantville, Vice Versa, DOA, Falling in Love, and Uncommon Valor.
In New York, Kaczmarek appeared on Broadway in Lost in Yonkers and in plays at the Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public, Second Stage, Long Wharf, New York Stage and Film, and the Berkshire and Williamstown Theatre Festivals. In Los Angeles she appeared in Kindertransport for which she received an Ovation Award. She starred in the premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner with Friends at South Coast Repertory where she also appeared in Raised in Captivity for which she won the L.A. Drama Critics Award.
She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Yale School of Drama, and is the founder of the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation which auctions celebrity award-show finery to benefit children’s charities.