“Danger!” hired Alex Trebek as host in 1984 and he held the title until his death in November 2020.
Now the void has to be filled, but the beloved game show takes its time. Instead, over the last few months, “Jeopardy!” has presented a parade of guest hosts doing their best to impress viewers and the studio expected to make the call before the new season begins filming later this summer.
Think of Sony Pictures Television clinging to the rose, and Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and “Jeopardy!” Champs Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen among the suitors so far, with more to come, including Robin Roberts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and LeVar Burton.
Sony has “the most robust team of people I̵
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“It has usually been an intestinal instinct from the top manager: ‘What about that person? “, Said Richards.
That was producer-entertainer Merv Griffin’s approach when he brought a syndicated version of “Jeopardy!” to TV, five years after the quiz show’s last network iteration packed in 1979 on NBC. A word from Lucille Ball about “I Love Lucy” fame and Trebek’s skill and experience sealed his rent.
Audience and critical respect for the Canadian-born Trebek grew over the years, making finding a worthy replacement both a gesture of respect for the late host and the means to protect an asset. While ratings have shifted below the guest hosts, “Jeopardy!” remains among the top-ranked syndicated programs in the field of viewership.
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Trebek helped build the show’s “show of excellence with his own expertise. And it’s extremely difficult to find someone to replace him, not just because of the status he had in the American imagination,” said Deepak Sarma, professor of Case Western Reserve University and Netflix Cultural Consultant. “Anyone who will take his position will ultimately be judged against this model of perfection.”
Game show hosts from the Trebek era were usually radio and television broadcast veterans imbued with the genre and almost always white men. Among “Jeopardy!” subs are men and women in color and prospects from a variety of areas, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
This approach makes sense for Louis Virtel, a longtime fan whose point of view is informed by writing for a game show (“Match Game”) and competing for “Jeopardy!” in 2015.
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“It’s great to see all these different fillings. I’m open to suggestions and I think most are,” said Virtel, a “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” author and co-host of the “Keep It” podcast. “‘Jeopardy!’ is a unique show and the replacement needs to be tailored to the game. “
What creates a good “Jeopardy!” host?
“I think establishing a sense of comfort (then) the audience just gets easier in the game,” Virtel said. “Also a sense of stakes that a really hard game is being played. It’s called ‘Jeopardy!’ for a reason. The host is there to make sure we’re all on our toes. “
Try-outs are an unusual public form of audition, one that can cause flops sweating even for veteran performers. For the actress Bialik from “Blossom”, “The Big Bang Theory” and “Call Me Kat”, all nerves were pushed out of the demands of the job – and she is a neuroscientist.
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“There is very little room not to be 100% called to the host job when you are on that stage,” Bialik said in an email. It turned out to be the most “happy, challenging, transcendent act I’ve ever done – other than giving birth to my second son on the floor in my living room.”
Back in the day, there were only a handful of pioneers like Betty White, the first female game show host to win a Daytime Emmy (for 1983’s “Just Men!”), And Adam Wade, a black singer who hosted the 1975 show “Musical Chairs” . ”
Wayne Brady, Steve Harvey and Meredith Vieira are among those who made further inroads, with only growing pressure on the entertainment industry to reflect America more broadly on screen.
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But taking over for an authority figure like Trebek is harder for women and others not typically seen in such roles, Sarma said.
“The kind of expectations placed on a colored person in a leadership position are usually higher than those placed on a white person in a position of power,” he said, and any mistake or “slight movement toward the norm is skipped … as a huge mistake. “
There may be setbacks from the anger over Trebek not being replaced like for-like, which Sarma said is not protracted during this period of social disagreement.
“Sony is in a pickle,” he said.
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Series producer Richards, the second temporary host after Trebek’s pancreatic cancer death in November last year at the age of 80, has an optimistic view despite the prospect of online trolls and what their grip on the novice may be.
“My hope is that whoever gets elected gets a chance to prove why they were elected, without being too static,” he said. “Ultimately, we try to put the best product to our fans. It tends to narrow your focus to a beautiful looking North Star, as opposed to: ‘What will the internet say?’
The Associated Press contributed to this report.