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The answer man

Kyle Neblett lets his knowledge do the buzzing on popular television game show
by: Jonathan House, Kyle Neblett, a senior at Aloha High School, lived a dream by appearing on Jeopardy! this month.

For Aloha High School senior Kyle Neblett, 'What is…' became a familiar refrain as he took the stage in Los Angeles for the Jeopardy! Summer Games Teen Tournament last week.

It was there that Neblett went head-to-head against 14 other high school students from as far away as Florida and New York, vying for a $75,000 grand prize.

'I wanted to do this all my life,' Neblett said of his Jeopardy! debut. 'I watch the show a lot.'

Neblett, 17, went to Sony Pictures Television in Culver City, Calif., to tape the segments of what is currently the No. 1 quiz show in the country.

'We spent the two days taping the shows,' he said. 'The taping started at 11:30 and went until about 4:30.'

The shows will be broadcast for two weeks in July - July 16 through July 27, broadcast on KATU, channel 2, at 7 p.m. each night.

A lot of questions

Heading for California, Neblett admitted to being a little nervous.

At that time, his preparation consisted of combing through books and surfing Web sites such as Wikepedia, Encarta and SparkNotes, drawing heavily on the latter while brushing up on his knowledge of Shakespeare.

'It's pretty hard to study for,' Neblett said. 'I do the crossword every day.'

On Monday, Neblett said he found the questions both easy and difficult, noting that he quickly discovered it's important to be well-versed in a variety of subjects.

'A lot of questions weren't as academic as I thought (with) a lot of questions on movies and TV,' he said.

Although he didn't do terrible in those categories, in retrospect he says he may have watched a little more television to become more familiar with those topics.

Called for a tryout

Neblett's shot at the big time began back in October when he took an online Jeopardy! test, joining 3,000 to 5,000 other youths from across the nation.

'Then I got called back to a tryout. They had it in four different cities,' he said. 'The closest one to us was in Los Angeles.'

In the end 250 young people were called back. Of those, 30 teens, including Neblett, were named finalists (15 who appeared in the February tournament and 15 who taped the show last week).

Before Neblett and other contestants appeared with cameras rolling, they stood on the set answering practice questions and getting a feel for the show's fast-paced format.

When Neblett was introduced, host Alex Trebek asked him a few quick questions, later asking him follow-up questions based on biographical information the teen submitted before arriving in Los Angeles.

Although two weeks worth of shows were taped in two days, the magic of television makes it appear to have been shot on separate days with the host appearing fresh for each game, said Neblett.

'The show ends, he (Trebek) leaves, gets changed and comes back for the next show,' said Neblett.

Neblett said he got a chance to socialize with fellow contestants, who ranged in age from 15 to 17.

'We hung out a lot, especially after the shows were done taping,' he said. 'They gave us tickets to Universal Studios.'

Most of the teens were from the East Coast with only three from the West Coast.

Did really good

Regardless of how each player did, all were guaranteed at least $5,000 in cash.

So how did he do?

Neblett can't say until after the shows are broadcast in July.

After graduating from Aloha, Neblett hopes to attend college, possibly at McGill in Montreal, Canada.

'I want to study engineering - computer or electrical,' he said.

For now, when friends ask how he did, he has a ready answer.

'I'm telling them I did really good,' he said. 'They won't be disappointed.'