Alex Trebek, the genial presenter of one of TV’s longest-running game shows, had announced in 2019 that he had stage-4 pancreatic cancer. So, it was not surprising earlier this month, to see an outpouring of grief following his death.
And with his passing, many asked whether Jeopardy! had a future. And if so, who could possibly replace the man who had become so synonymous with the show itself?
This week, producers revealed that indeed, the show will go on, even without Trebek’s professorial charm. And his replacement will be another recognizable fixture of the show.
Ken Jennings, who holds the all-time Jeopardy! record for most consecutive winning games (he won 74 games in a row) will be the first interim host of the show, which resumes production on November 30. While the series has not yet hired a permanent host, Jennings will be the first in a series of temporaries. In other words, the show will be auditioning contenders by having them host real episodes.
One reason that Jennings has been chosen as the first interim host is to retain a sense of stability for the show. After all, devoted fans will have to learn to adjust to a Trebek-less Jeopardy! But seeing a recognizable face will help continue the life of the franchise, even after the loss of its beloved host.
Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, has said as much:
“We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues,” Richards stated. “By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”
The show does not film live, and episodes from its 37th season -hosted by Trebek – are still airing. The new episodes featuring Jennings will begin to air in January 2021.