Alex Trebek, in an interview with TMZ’s Harvey Levin for Fox News, stated that he’s unlikely to return to Jeopardy! when his contract expires in 2020. There are so many things in that sentence to dislike, but Trebek’s retirement, while a bummer, should also be seen as an opportunity. There will always be fans that think the show should end with Trebek, but the show itself is solid and familiar enough that it could easily rest on the shoulders of another host. It feels akin to when Bob Barker left The Price is Right. Barker was hosting the show since 1972 and left in 2007 to be replaced by Drew Carey. Barker’s tenure was 35 years and if Trebek retires in 2020, Trebek will only best Barker by a year. The shows existed before these two hosting legends and they’ll definitely survive after them. Like the jovial, family-friendly, funny presence of Drew Carey on Price, Jeopardy! just needs the same sort of replacement that can respect the fan cult that is the show alongside bringing a refreshing new energy. While Trebek himself offered up two replacements for him (a LA King announcer and a Los Angeles attorney), there are three more viable categories in which to choose a new host: Former Jeopardy! contestants, Familiar game show hosts, or respected tv news anchors. Each of these pools offers their own fanbase and a certain gravitas and viewer reassurance.
Ken Jennings – Not only is Jennings the record holder for longest Jeopardy! winning streak, but he’s made the second most money in game winnings. He also is a great lover of trivia history in general and wrote a book about it back in 2006. Where other Jeopardy! contestants may be excellent at game play, they aren’t all the most charming or charismatic in order to take hosting duties. Jennings, on the other hand, almost had a Comedy Central quiz show and has a massive twitter following (285.7K) who love not only his smarts but also his snarky sense of humor.
brb, deleting ten years of pedophilia jokes https://t.co/BFmdAbk3Sg
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) July 30, 2018
Louis Virtel – While Virtel may not be as known as Jennings in the Jeopardy!-verse, he certainly made a strong impression with his laser-focused while still full of personality gameplay. Even though he didn’t win his one game appearance, Virtel made himself known with a strong snap to accent his correct Daily Double and professed his love of Jane Fonda as part of his personal interview. While many viewers may want a host who doesn’t bubble over with personality, Virtel would have the right mixture of fun and sheer love of the game. If you’ve listened to Virtel as a co-host of Crooked Media’s podcast Keep It, he’s not only hilarious but a very impressive font of cultural trivia. Virtel is also ready for the job, as he made very clear on his Twitter.
Seasoned Show Hosts
Chris Harrison – It’s obvious network synergy for ABC to throw the successful host of The Bachelor franchise and Who Wants to be a Millionaire yet another game show. He’s reliable and recognizable. Yes, he’d be a uninspired choice, but he could definitely do the job well.
Marc Summers – Maybe he doesn’t have the name recognition of a Chris Harrison, but he has the heart of Millenial viewers as the host of the 90s Nickelodeon game show Double Dare. Since the halcyon days of Nickelodeon, Summers has made a very solid living as the host of multiple Food Network shows. He may have never hosted a straight forward quiz show, but he has the warm, dad-like familiar quality audiences would enjoy and he’d make contestants feel comfortable.
TV News Anchors
Ann Curry – Curry, after the Matt Lauer mess, deserves the cushiest job ever. It would also be a nice way for ABC to stick it to NBC for being stupid enough to let her go. Besides just being sweet, sweet revenge, Curry would rock the hosting gig. She’s poised and professional and has the similar straightforward presence of Trebek.
Tamron Hall – Though Hall is pretty tight in the NBC fold, having done stints for NBC News and The Today Show, perhaps by 2020 her contract would allow for a network jump. She’s got a great matter of fact sensibility that would serve her well as a Jeopardy! host. Also the fact that on the Today Show she said she regularly checks into hotels under the pseudonym DJ Warm Cookies shows that she could have that sly sense of unexpected humor that Alex Trebek occasionally employs.