‘Jeopardy!’ Ongoing Host Turmoil Has a Bunch of Past Contestants Sounding Off

by Anna Dunn
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)

Jeopardy! hasn’t been a name associated with controversy until recently, when the show appointed now-ousted executive producer Mike Richards as a permanent host. When it was revealed that Richards, who had a ton of power over the hiring process, also had a sordid past, Richards had to step down. Now, with the search for a host re-starting, former contestants are chiming in.

One former contestant, Staci Huffman, who won nearly $30,000 on the show, exclaimed that she was fed up with the appointment with Mike Richards before the scandal even broke. She’s far from the only one with that viewpoint. She talked about it in an interview with Yahoo! News.

“I’m surprised,” Huffman said. “I didn’t realize there was so much turmoil. When it was announced that he (Richards) would host, it seemed like a situation in which he was looking for a good host, but he decided to pick himself. That left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s so different than what it was like with Alex Trebek.”

Huffman enjoyed her experience with Alex Trebek immensely.

“Alex was the nicest guy who worked so hard with his staff every day,” she said.

Former ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestants Weighed in on LeVar Burton potentially Hosting

When it comes to who should host, LeVar Burton, a fan favorite for the position, is on everyone’s mind. While Huffman didn’t have any solid opinions on Burton, other contestants certainly did.

Melissa Stewart, a 2008 contestant, loves the idea of LeVar Burton hosting.

“As a Gen Xer, I would love to see LeVar as the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ I loved him on ‘Reading Rainbow.’ He appeals to people of my age, and my parents remember him from ‘Roots.’ A big reason to consider LeVar Burton is that he’s scandal free. He’s also great on camera,” she said.

Whether or not LeVar Burton gets the hosting gig, it’ll probably be hard for Jeopardy! to bounce back, at least at first. Jeopardy! has been associated with wholesomeness and easy-going family fun for decades. Unfortunately, the appointment and subsequent stepping down of Mike Richards has tainted the show’s once-great image.

But Stewart believes the show will bounce back from this.

“I believe ‘Jeopardy!’ will bounce back,” Stewart said. “‘Jeopardy!’ is an institution and isn’t going anywhere despite all of this. ‘Jeopardy!’ is one of the last bastions of what people consider to be honest television. It has few frills and is one of the few places on television where smart people get paid money to be smart.”

As much as it may hurt the image of the show, things will likely die down if production names an uncontroversial host. Ken Jennings, LeVar Burton, and Mayim Bialik are all at the forefront of the conversation right now, but there are plenty of others that could also take that spot.

It’s impossible to fill Alex Trebek’s shoes, but it is possible to hire a host that doesn’t cause controversy. Fans and former contestants alike hope the show gets it right this time.