As impossible as it may seem, there will come a day when starting an episode of Jeopardy! won't involve a conversation about how smartly Alex Trebek's tie and suit complement each other, because Alex Trebek will no longer be center stage as Jeopardy!'s host. That inevitable truth was made all the more timely when Trebek recently revealed his cancer diagnosis, and it's being reported that the show's producers are actively seeking out potential replacements as host.
Understandably, Jeopardy! hasn't ever been very public about what the plan would be if Alex Trebek was no longer available as host, whether due to retirement or some other issue. Considering the syndicated game show is as much of a TV staple as The Tonight Show or Meet the Press, no one is expecting Sony Pictures Television to pack up and ship out once Trebek needs to step down. But how does one replace such a small screen icon?
This newsy rumor comes from Rob Shuter's podcast Straight Shuter: Naughty But Nice, where he claims that previous discussions about finding a new Jeopardy! host were renewed and hastened in the time since Alex Trebek revealed he is suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Though Trebek has pledged to remain Jeopardy!'s frontman for as long as his health allows him to, his diagnosis isn't one that can be reversed with ease, so back-up plans are fairly necessary now.
Currently, no specific plans or goals have been made public in terms of what kind of replacement host the producers will be looking for. That said, it's reported that conversations about Alex Trebek's replacement have been guided by the urge to find a female to take Jeopardy!'s reins, and possibly someone with some racial diversity.
The overall goal, of course, will be to land someone who is as well-educated as audiences would expect a Jeopardy! host to be. I'm guessing they'll also get someone who loves over-enunciating foreign words, as well as someone who doesn't have strong feelings against growing facial hair out on occasion to see if audiences are into it.
For a particular example, the report's sources mentioned Gayle King as an idealized host template. She's definitely smart, and has two college degrees to show for it. She's clearly comfortable in front of a camera, having been in TV journalism for nearly 40 years, and she currently anchors CBS This Morning for CBS News. Plus, she's besties with Oprah Winfrey, and she could probably get Oprah to do some video clues.
That's just one example of who could take Alex Trebek's place, of course. When it comes to people who are already used to appearing on Jeopardy!, former champion Buzzy Cohen has expressed his strong desire to one day be next in line for the throne, er, hosting podium. I guess we'll have to wait and see which candidates work the hardest to gain the producers' favor.
To be sure, Jeopardy! would likely have started a more dedicated hunt for a new host in the relatively near future anyway, considering Alex Trebek's most recent show contract, which will be his last, has three years left on it. So the need to find a new host was an unavoidable struggle that was bound to rear its uncomfortable head at some point. The inevitability doesn't make it any easier, though.
Jeopardy! airs in syndication every weekday, so check your local listings to learn when and where it airs in your area.