Ryan Seacrest will take over hosting duties on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ for the show’s 42nd season next year, the show has announced.
A face familiar to TV viewers will fill the shoes of the man who holds a world record for the longest run of any game show host. Ryan Seacrest will become the new host of Wheel of Fortune two seasons from now. Pat Sajak, who has hosted the show since starting on the NBC daytime version in 1981, will retire at the end of the upcoming season.
That will put Sajak, who hosted the current syndicated version since its 1982 premiere, with 41 seasons under his belt. The next closest host in terms of longevity with the same show, was Bob Barker, who hosted the first 35 seasons of The Price is Right.
Seacrest will be about 49 when he begins spinning the Wheel. That’s the same age Barker and his predecessor, Drew Carey, were when they started hosting Price. But to beat Sajak’s record, he’ll have to host Wheel of Fortune until he’s at least 90. That should be interesting to see.
I’m sure you’ll find mixed feelings among fans. Some wanted Sajak’s longtime co-host, Vanna White, to get the gig. But when you’re changing hosts, you want some sense of stability. Keeping Vanna in her current spot might serve to keep things grounded and help things still feel familiar.
Some probably wanted LeVar Burton to succeed Sajak. Burton campaigned unsuccessfully for the late Alex Trebek’s hosting duties on Jeopardy!
Some even hoped Maggie Sajak, the daughter of Pat Sajak, to follow in her dad’s footsteps. Maggie Sajak serves as the show’s “social media correspondent.” I don’t watch Wheel of Fortune, so I can’t imagine what a social media correspondent would do on that show or how they could work one in given the fast-paced feel it has.
Seacrest is a good choice
I grew up in the 1970s, which was still part of the golden age of game shows. Some of the best game show emcees who ever held a microphone worked during that time. You don’t find emcees anymore. Nowadays, too often, show runners like to choose comedians as hosts. Yes, Steve Harvey proved to be a great fit for the current Family Feud, which isn’t nearly as “family” friendly as it used to be. Wayne Brady turned out to be a phenomenal choice for Let’s Make a Deal.
But I can think of other cases in which picking a comedian wasn’t the best choice for a game show host. That’s especially true when a comedian replaces a longtime emcee who had established the show’s style.
Seacrest hosted a game show in his early days. It was called Click. You won’t remember it; it was a lousy show. But he still did a good job with what he had to work with. That included a show loaded down with gimmicks and contestants who didn’t seem to know much of anything. In some ways, Wheel of Fortune might seem a bit familiar.
But Wheel is a pretty strong format and fast-paced, so you don’t need a comedian who’d be trying to go for laughs at every turn. There’s simply no time for that. You need someone who can helm a show and keep the train on track.
Whether you like Seacrest or not, he certainly can do that.