Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Search Is On For Next Jeopardy Host

The legions of fans for the popular game show Jeopardy will soon get a clearer picture of who will become the show's new host in the coming months. 

Sony Pictures Television, which produces “Jeopardy!,” has embarked on a formal search for Trebek’s replacement, according to several people who are familiar with the plans but were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

A representative for Sony declined to comment for The L-A Times on the status of the search. Barry Nugent, a consultant and former head of talent development of the Game Show Network, is leading the process to fill the highly coveted position, the results of which will be scrutinized by the show’s loyal audience and the TV industry.

Sony is not only hiring a host but the face of a beloved pop-culture franchise.

The show, created by Merv Griffin, dates to 1964 when it debuted on NBC.

While the audience levels for broadcast and cable TV networks have steadily diminished in the age of streaming, “Jeopardy!” has sustained its popularity, drawing around 8 million viewers daily on the stations that carry it across the country, according to Nielsen data — more than most network prime-time programs. Younger viewers are finding past episodes on Netflix.

Viewers will start seeing guest hosts after the final Trebek episodes taped in October air this week. Trebek, the only host of “Jeopardy!” since it was revived for syndicated TV in 1984, died Nov. 8 after battling pancreatic cancer.

All-time “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings will be the first guest host starting Jan. 11. Longtime TV news personality Katie Couric has also signed to be a substitute host for a week, which makes her a candidate as a permanent replacement.

Other names that have come up in early discussions about the job include Steve Kornacki, the MSNBC political correspondent who has developed a rabid cult following for his savant-like analysis of vote counts on election nights; actress Mayim Bialik; and Mike Richards, the executive producer of “Jeopardy!” who also has experience as a game show host.

There is no shortage of interested applicants.

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos has also mused about hosting if the job became available as has CNN’s John Berman, a celebrity “Jeopardy!” champ in 2015, and former “Today” co-host Meredith Vieira.

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