‘Jeopardy!’ Former Champ Says Show Didn’t Respect ‘Alex Trebek’s Wishes’

by Leanne Stahulak
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Though it feels like the “Jeopardy!” hosting drama took place ages ago, it’s still ongoing as the show’s producers struggle to replace the iconic Alex Trebek. Although, in former champion Arthur Chu’s eyes, there never should’ve been a debacle in the first place.

Chu spoke with Newsweek earlier this week and mentioned how he believes the showrunners were not “respectful” of Trebek’s wishes for his successor. The late host died almost a year ago of stage four pancreatic cancer. Since then, several guest hosts stepped up to try their hand at being the “Jeopardy!” host, but Chu believes it should’ve gone to one person.

“I was rooting for Ken Jennings as host out of solidarity as a fellow former contestant, and because it really seems like he was Alex Trebek’s choice for a successor, hence Trebek giving him his cufflinks and having him narrate his audiobook,” Chu explained.

“But ultimately most of what anyone would need to know to have an informed opinion is stuff that we’ll never find out about without someone leaking it from behind the scenes,” he continued. “I don’t have strong opinions on it. Other than that I think there’s some clear signs Alex Trebek’s preferred successor was Ken Jennings. And it would have been more respectful to abide by his wishes.”

Jennings now temporarily guest hosts with Mayim Bialik, switching off weeks until the end of 2021. Chu isn’t necessarily her biggest fan, disagreeing with her earlier comments about vaccines.

“I find many of the comments Bialik has made about important issues in the past to be unfortunate. And I strongly disagree with her past expressed opinions on issues like #MeToo and vaccinations,” Chu shared.

“That said, while she hasn’t given the apology I wish she would have upon being named to this position, she hasn’t continued to push any of these ideas as host. And sometimes you have to reluctantly accept that all the famous people you enjoy seeing onscreen have something problematic from their past.”

Former ‘Jeopardy’ Champ Shares His Thoughts on New Host

Chu said “Jeopardy” seems to be going “as well as can be expected,” despite Bialik’s past. But now the show must focus on appointing a new host “as soon as possible—further uncertainty can only harm the show.”

So, who besides Jennings could Chu see taking on the role? Though he didn’t name someone specifically, the 11-day champion did list certain attributes the host should have.

“Primarily a steady hand, a willingness to stick to the background and ‘let the contestants be the stars,’ as Alex Trebek put it,” he shared. “And a capacity for being relatable, human, and reassuring without crossing the line to taking the spotlight themselves. It’s not easy and it often seems to go against the instincts of many actors and performers. Which is why truly great hosts are rare.”