‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Once Described Importance of Game Shows in Today’s Society in 2018 Interview

by Jennifer Shea

The late, great “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek was not a fan of courtroom dramas. He deplored their tendency to highlight conflict at a time of heightened societal tension.

Game shows, by contrast, Trebek believed could do a lot of good. In a 2018 interview with Vulture, he said the positivity of game shows was exactly what Western society needs at a time like this.

“In this day and age, when there is so much societal tension, game shows are valuable because they’re pleasant,” Trebek told Vulture. “If you want to compare them to court shows, those are always about conflict — it’s nastiness. And I think in today’s society we feel a need to get away from nastiness.”

Trebek Talked About the Difference Between ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’

While both are game shows, Trebek acknowledged that there are important differences between “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” And he said “Jeopardy!” is not for everyone.

“There’s a lot more excitement with ‘Wheel of Fortune’ because luck plays a much greater role — there’s the spin of the wheel,” he said. “On ‘Jeopardy!’ it’s all what you know. People relate more positively to the element of luck. They’re a little intimidated by ‘Jeopardy!.’”

Trebek added that while he was friends with “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, the two never socialized. In fact, he said he never got together to talk shop with any of the other game show hosts.

“We game-show hosts are in the same business, but we all handle our jobs differently,” Trebek said. “The danger for viewers when they look at game-show hosts is to regard them in a narrow way. Peter Marshall is a singer, a television performer, and he hosts programs. Wink Martindale expanded his career beyond hosting game shows. I interviewed all of these guys in a documentary called ‘Game Changers.’”

As pleasant as game shows may be, it seems Trebek was able to leave his work at the office and focus on other things in his spare time. Like, for example, reading books and fixing things.

Who’s Hosting Next?

“Jeopardy!” is in the process of selecting a permanent replacement for Trebek, who died on Nov. 8, 2020 of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In the meantime, the show has had a series of celebrity guest-hosts.

The first to guest-host the show after Trebek’s final episode was “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings. Next was “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards. Following him was former “Today” show co-host Katie Couric. Then it was “Dr. Oz Show” host Dr. Mehmet Oz. After him, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took over. Next was CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

After the current guest-host, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker, former “Jeopardy!” champion Buzzy Cohen will guest-host the show. Then it’s actress Mayim Bialik’s turn. After her, “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie will have a go. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will follow her.

The show recently announced that George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, David Faber and Joe Buck will also guest-host later this summer.

All told, the show has plenty of candidates to choose from in selecting Trebek’s replacement. And executives are reportedly relying heavily on data, not producers’ subjective impressions, to make their decision. But whomever they choose, the search should make for some interesting television for “Jeopardy!” fans.