Jeopardy Has Announced A New Guest Host – Nicki Swift
It’s next to impossible to imagine Jeopardy! being hosted by anyone other than Alex Trebek, but that reality will soon play out once the iconic host’s final episode airs on Jan. 8, 2021. The week leading up to Trebek’s final episode will feature his five last taped shows, ending with a tribute to his life, per Today.
Trebek hosted the popular quiz show starting in 1984 and grew to be one of the most recognizable and beloved game show hosts in television history, per his Jeopardy! biography. America’s love for the Canadian-born host was even more apparent after he announced his stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019, as messages of support subsequently came pouring in from fans of all ages. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he said during his announcement. Unfortunately, however, Trebek passed away on Nov. 8, 2020.
While Trebek told fans they would see him host Jeopardy! as long as he physically could — he filmed his last episode just ten days before his death, per People — he knew there would one day come a time to surrender his role. In terms of who he saw taking over his job, Trebek joked that his friend Betty White should be hired because “they want somebody younger, somebody funnier,” in a July 2020 interview with Good Morning America.
Jeopardy! has now announced a new interim guest host, so let’s see if White got the gig.
Jeopardy!'s new guest host is a television veteran
All jokes aside, Alex Trebek had an educated guess about who would take the reins as the host of Jeopardy! “It’s probably going to be a woman and she’ll have to be bright. She’ll have to have a good sense of humor,” Trebek assumed in February 2019, per USA Today. He also mentioned CNN’s legal analyst Laura Coates, sports announcer Alex Faust, and television personality Ben Mankiewicz as possible options, adding that there are “so many talented people” that could do the job.
While fans have certainly shown their support for Betty White taking Trebek’s place, the temporary role went to a different kind of television star. On Jan. 6, 2021, producers announced that journalist Katie Couric would take her place at the podium as the next guest host for Jeopardy!, per The Los Angeles Times. The Times reached out to Couric’s representatives for a comment, but they declined.
Couric became a household name as the 15-year co-host of Today. After she retired from the hit morning show in 2006, she went on to anchor the CBS Evening News and then worked as a correspondent for ABC News. She currently runs the media organization that she co-founded, KCM, which delivers news, documentaries, and podcasts.
Couric is not the first guest co-host to take over for Trebek, however. In fact, the first person to be honored with the role is a former Jeopardy! contestant.
The first Jeopardy! host to follow Alex Trebek will be this former contestant
Ken Jennings was announced as Jeopardy!’s first interim host on Nov. 23, 2020 via Twitter, but he is far more than just a former player — he’s one of the most successful contestants of all time, winning 74 consecutive games and a humbling $2.5 million during his record-breaking run. “There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I’m honored to be helping Jeopardy!” Jennings wrote in response to the news. His first episode will air Jan. 11, 2021, per Today.
Jennings sat down for an interview with Good Morning America in January 2021 to reflect on his relationship with the Trebek and update fans on his own time taping the show as host. “I remember him just being very confident in me to be a guest host, if he ever needed that — we were hoping we’d have him with us for longer,” he said.
The champion-turned-host then went on to share the last piece of advice he received from Trebek. “He always made it about the players and about the competition,” Jennings recalled. “It’s just hard to imagine that in the TV landscape today, a star of his size saying, ‘Hey, the game is not about you,’ but that was great advice.”
With the first guest hosts locked down, there is still no publicly announced time frame for when Jeopardy! producers wish to find a permanent replacement. On that note, let’s see what Jeopardy! will look like without its beloved host.
Jeopardy! will continue on in a familiar way, with a less familiar face
While fans questioned what would come of Jeopardy! after the passing of Alex Trebek, producers knew the show would undoubtedly continue. “Alex believed in the importance of Jeopardy! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him,” executive producer Mike Richards said in a statement. “We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”
Richards told CNN in November 2020 that fans can expect some emotional moments during Trebek’s final episodes. “He gives a speech talking about togetherness, how important family is, and it will resonate even more now,” he shared. “It was so beautiful that we were all emotional, we were all in tears, and we all started clapping.”
While the team behind Jeopardy! is confident it will still provide an enjoyable show for viewers, it will be difficult to parallel Trebek’s success as the show’s longtime host. However, Trebek humbly knew there would always be someone who can execute the job flawlessly. “There are some individuals who could have been named hosts of Jeopardy! and,” he said, per The Oprah Magazine, “if the show had lasted 36 years, they would have enjoyed the same kind of favorable reviews and adulation that I have enjoyed in recent years.”
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