“Jeopardy!” champion and guest host Ken Jennings will host his last episode of the show this Friday.
Ken Jennings Exits the Stage
Jennings took over hosting duties on Jan. 11, a short time after legendary host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, 2020.
But as soon as he took the reins, Jennings almost immediately faced drama over his past and recent tweets.
Among other things, Jennings once tweeted that there is “nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” cracked a mean joke about President Trump’s then-11-year-old son Barron, and reportedly took swipes at all conservatives.
His tweets became a public scandal. So Jennings tweeted a mea culpa of sorts.
“Hey, I just wanted to own up to the fact that over the years on Twitter, I’ve definitely tweeted some unartful and insensitive things,” he said in December. “Sometimes they worked as jokes in my head and I was dismayed to see how they read on screen.”
While Jennings could not compete with Trebek’s final week as host, his ratings were nonetheless respectable. His debut week averaged 10.3 million viewers.
Who’s Hosting Next?
So after Jennings, who’s next?
“Jeopardy!” fans have an assortment of guest hosts in store for them over the upcoming months.
From Feb. 22 to March 5, “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards will take over hosting duties. Richards was part of the team that worked on the final Trebek episodes, and he is leading the search for Trebek’s final replacement.
“The search is going very well, there are a lot of people very interested in hosting Jeopardy!, which is gratifying, and also appropriately reverent of the shoes they will be stepping into,” Richards told Deadline. “We have had some great conversations with people.”
Richards said Trebek’s replacement won’t be named until this spring.
Nine Guest Hosts After Jennings
In the meantime, author and ex-“Today” show host Katie Couric will host “Jeopardy!” from March 8 to March 18. Couric is an outspoken advocate of cancer screenings who has lost several family members to the disease.
But a source told Page Six that Couric recently bashed Trump supporters in an appearance on Bill Maher’s show. And that has “Jeopardy!” producers concerned that she is not cut out to be a permanent host. The show’s audience reportedly skews conservative and has an average age of 64.2 years old.
Trebek told Vulture in 2018 that he looked to Johnny Carson as a role model of a longtime TV show host who didn’t offend his audience.
“One reason why a host can succeed for a long time is by not offending,” Trebek said. “You saw it with Johnny Carson. He was bright enough to cover almost any potentially offensive moment with his wit.”
After Couric, the next guest hosts will be Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” 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.
Each guest host will donate to a charity of their choosing during their stint on “Jeopardy!”