Bradford Gates “Brad” Rutter is the biggest all-time money winner on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! and the second biggest all-time money winner on a game show. Rutter became an undefeated champion on Jeopardy! in 2000 and subsequently won an unprecedented three Jeopardy! tournament titles: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Following his third tournament win, in which he defeated Ken Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter surpassed Jennings as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows. Jennings subsequently regained his record by appearing on various other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (first aired on October 10, 2008). Rutter retains the record for Jeopardy! winnings with $3,470,102, and a pair of Chevrolet Camaros ($55,102 in five-day winnings, $100,000 and $1,000,000 and $2,115,000; see below), and $200,000 in his three tournaments and one exhibition respectively).
Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a contributing editor of Reason magazine. As a science fiction author, Benford is perhaps best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare with sentient mechanical life. Benford tends to write hard science fiction which incorporates the research he is doing as a practical scientist. He has worked on several collaborations with authors including William Rotsler, David Brin and Gordon Eklund. His time-travel novel Timescape (1980) won both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A scientific procedural, the novel eventually loaned its title to a line of science fiction published by Pocket Books. In the late 1990s, he wrote Foundation’s Fear, one of an authorized sequel trilogy to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Other novels published in that period include several near-future science thrillers: Cosm (1998), The Martian Race (1999) and Eater (2000).
Monte Cook is a professional table-top role-playing game designer and writer. Cook has been a professional game designer since 1988, working primarily on role-playing games. Much of his early work was for Iron Crown Enterprises as an editor and writer for the Rolemaster and Champions lines. Cook worked for Iron Crown Enterprises for four years; two as a freelancer and two as a full-time designer. During this period, he attracted fan and critical attention with the popular multi-genre setting Dark Space. Cook began working for TSR in 1992 as a freelancer, “writing a whole slew of stuff for the old Marvel game that never came out because the game got canceled”. Joining the TSR team, Cook designed Dungeons & Dragons modules such as Labyrinth of Madness (1995) and A Paladin in Hell (1998), and dozens of supplements to the Planescape line including The Planewalker’s Handbook (1996) and Dead Gods (1998). Cook also designed the conspiracy game Dark•Matter (1999).
Maurice Alberto “Mo” Rocca is an American writer, journalist, comedian and political satirist. Rocca, of Colombian (mother) and Italian (father) descent, attended Georgetown Preparatory School, the Jesuit boys school in North Bethesda, Maryland, and later went on to graduate from Harvard University in 1991 with a B.A. in literature. He served as president of Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, performing in four of the company’s notorious burlesques and even co-authoring one (Suede Expectations). He is openly gay. Rocca was a regular contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from 1998 to 2003. His work included campaign coverage for Indecision 2000 and a regular feature entitled “That’s Quite Interesting.” Rocca’s satirical novel All the Presidents’ Pets: The Story of One Reporter who Refused to Roll Over, described as a blend of All the President’s Men, The DaVinci Code and Charlotte’s Web, was published by Crown Books in 2004.
Frank Miller is an American comic book artist and writer best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300. He also directed the film version of The Spirit, shared directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City and produced the film 300. Miller’s work has often been met with positive reception. The Dark Knight Returns was a critical success, and Batman: Year One was met with even greater praise for its gritty style. However, Miller’s later work often has been met with criticism. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again received less-positive reviews than its predecessor. All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder in particular was met with harsh criticism. When All Star Batman and Robin was reprinted in the UK by Panini Comics under the Batman Legends banner, a member of the Irish Rape Crisis Centre, on the Irish radio talk show Liveline criticized the content and the fact it was marketed to children. Some of Miller’s works have been accused of lacking humanity, particularly in regard to the abundance of prostitutes portrayed in Sin City. When it was released in 2008, Miller’s film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit met with largely negative reviews, earning a metascore of 30/100 at the review aggregation site Metacritic.com.
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Farmer is best known for his sequences of novels, especially the World of Tiers (1965–93) and Riverworld (1971–83) series. He is noted for the pioneering use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for, and reworking of, the lore of celebrated pulp heroes, and occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters. Farmer often mixed real and classic fictional characters and worlds and real and fake authors as epitomized by his Wold Newton family group of books. These tie all classic fictional characters together as real people and blood relatives resulting from an alien conspiracy. Such works as The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973) are early examples of literary mashup. Literary critic Leslie Fiedler compared Farmer to Ray Bradbury as both being “provincial American eccentrics” … who… “strain at the classic limits of the [science fiction] form”, but found Farmer distinctive in that he “manages to be at once naive and sophisticated in his odd blending of theology, pornography, and adventure”.
Stephen Chbosky is an American novelist, screenwriter, and film director best known for writing the coming of age novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), as well as for screenwriting and directing the film version of the same book, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2005 film Rent, and was co-creator, executive producer, and writer of the CBS television series Jericho, which began airing in 2006. In the mid-2000s, Chbosky decided, on the advice of his agent, to begin looking for work in television in addition to film. Finding he “enjoyed the people [he met who were working] in television”, Chbosky agreed to serve as co-creator, executive producer, and writer of the CBS serial television drama Jericho, which premiered in September 2006. The series revolves around the inhabitants of the fictional small town of Jericho, Kansas in the aftermath of several nuclear attacks. Chbosky has said the relationship between Jake Green, the main character, and his mother, reflected “me and my mother in a lot of ways”. The first season of Jericho received lackluster ratings, and CBS canceled the show in May 2007. A grassroots campaign to revive the series convinced CBS to renew the series for a second season, which premiered on February 12, 2008, before being canceled once more in March 2008.