‘Jeopardy’ host Alex Trebek set the game show world into a panic with the suggestion he may retire when his current contract ends.
Game show fans were reeling this week from news that Alex Trebek might not renew his current contract when it ends in 2020. That means the venerable Jeopardy!, which begins its 35th season in syndication this fall, might be without its longtime host in a few years.
The rumors began swirling when he told Harvey Levin on the Fox News show OBJECTified that the odds of his returning to the game show after his current contract ends are “50-50 and a little less.”
Trebek recently turned 78 years old. Wikipedia reports that he suffered a minor heart attack in December of 2007 but was back at work as scheduled the following month. He suffered a second mild heart attack in June of 2012, but was back at work the next month. He suffered a fall during a winter break this past year and had to have surgery to remove blood clots this past January, but was back at work before the month was over.
In other words, you can’t keep Trebek down!
But assuming the host’s contract ends at the end of the 2019-2020 season and he decides not to renew, he would have completed 36 years at the helm, one year longer than Bob Barker’s run on CBS’s The Price is Right.
Pat Sajak, of sister game show Wheel of Fortune, is now in his 35th year of hosting the syndicated version and will have completed 37 years when his contract expires, also in 2020. That puts Sajak as the longest-running host of a single game show. But Sajak is only 71 and could potentially shoot for 40 or even 45 years as host of ‘Wheel.’
I’ll admit this: I’ve never been much of a fan of Jeopardy! and I even remember its first host, the late Art Fleming. But I’ve always believed that Trebek has done an excellent job emceeing the program and keeping things on target and keeping the pace up.
There have been “perfect marriages” of game shows and game show hosts over the years: Barker and The Price is Right was certainly one. Perhaps the best such pairing was the late Gene Rayburn to Match Game.
But Trebek has been a perfect pairing for the famous Q&A game (or should that be “A&Q” game?) over the years. And for all of those years, he’s been joined by announcer Johnny Gilbert, who recently turned 94.
Trebek suggested two names for possible replacements: Alex Faust, the play-by-play announcer for the N.H.L.’s Los Angeles Kings; and Laura Coates, a legal analyst and frequent on-air personality for CNN.
I wouldn’t want to be the one to decide who should take Trebek’s slot if he does indeed decide to retire in a year-and-a-half.