‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Said Show’s Creator ‘Had No Interest’ in Show, Was Invested in ‘Wheel of Fortune’

by Jennifer Shea

Media mogul Merv Griffin created both “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” But in his memoir, The Answer Is…, legendary “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek said Griffin had no interest in his show.

Alex Trebek Said Merv Griffin Preferred ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Griffin supposedly preferred “Wheel of Fortune” to “Jeopardy!,” brainstorming the word puzzles for that somewhat less cerebral game show, Showbiz Cheat Sheet reports.  

Trebek said he got along with Griffin, but he was not blind to Griffin’s hands-off approach to “Jeopardy!” in comparison to his embrace of “Wheel of Fortune.”

“Merv was actually a very warm man,” Trebek wrote. “He had the unique ability to draw you in and make you feel like whatever you were saying was the only thing that mattered to him in that moment.”

Trebek did not spend much time with Griffin, but he valued those occasions when they did meet.

“The few times I spent with Merv were very special, but we didn’t have much of a relationship,” Trebek noted. “He left ‘Jeopardy!’ alone completely. He involved himself the first year or two in the design and colors of the set. And he did guest star with me on an episode of ‘The Golden Girls’ that was shot on our set. But that was it.”

“His show, his baby, was ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” Trebek added. “He took a great deal of pleasure in coming up with the word puzzles for ‘Wheel.’ But he had no interest whatsoever in ‘Jeopardy!’”

Trebek’s Final Week on ‘Jeopardy!’ Drew Huge Ratings

The last week of “Jeopardy!” episodes featuring Trebek as host really brought in the audience, with an average of 11.2 million viewers per episode.

Trebek taped the episodes in October, before his death on Nov. 8. The final episode featuring Trebek, which aired Jan. 8, drew 14 million viewers.

That was the most the show had seen since June 3, 2019, during James Holzhauer’s 32-game winning streak. It also led every primetime program except sports for that week, per The Hollywood Reporter.  

In fact, even after those episodes aired, “Jeopardy!” still leads “Wheel of Fortune” in the ratings.

The show is now moving on from temporary host Ken Jennings.

Next up are guest hosts executive producer Mike Richards, ex-“Today” show host Katie Couric, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “Today” co-anchor Savanna Guthrie, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, actress Mayim Bialik, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.