‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Reveals Where the Show Went Wrong in Finding Alex Trebek’s Replacement

by Amy Myers

When Jeopardy! fans processed the news of their favorite game show host’s death, they knew Alex Trebek would be a tough act to follow. His wit, humility and passion made him an essential part of the show and were the reason why so many people tuned into the program. Through his interaction with contestants and wide range of knowledge, he created an environment in which trivia lovers of all levels could enjoy the competition.

No one knows the extent of Trebek’s welcoming and compassionate demeanor like the previous contestants on Jeopardy! That includes, of course, 11-time champ Arthur Chu. Even though Chu’s time on the game show ended seven years ago, he still remembers his conversations with Trebek before his cancer diagnosis. According to Chu, the way the show carried on the search for the late host’s replacement was completely against what he would have wanted.

In a column he wrote for The Washington Post, the Jeopardy! champ explained that Trebek wouldn’t want all the focus to be on the new host. Instead, he would want the stars of the show to remain to be the contestants.

“At my tapings, Trebek told us that if he were ever to retire, his one piece of advice to his successor would be, ‘Stay out of the way, and let the contestants be the stars,'” Chu wrote. “When Trebek died of pancreatic cancer in November of last year, most fans expected for a replacement already to have been named and, after a bit of welcoming fanfare, for the show to return to normal as soon as possible.”

‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Points Out Problems with Rotating Hosts

After 37 years leading Jeopardy!, producers and fans no doubt wanted to honor Trebek’s time with his replacement. Though it may have been interesting to watch who came to guest host the game show each week, Chu explained why this is exactly what Trebek wouldn’t want to happen. Instead of keeping the focus on the gameplay and competitors, the show became about who held the clue cards. Whether fans loved or hated their performances on the show, they couldn’t stop talking about the celebrities at the helm of the game.

That was exactly the problem.

Now that Mike Richards has come and gone as the replacement host, fans are rallying for the rotating panel of guest hosts to continue, so that there isn’t a permanent Jeopardy! host at all. Chu worries that this will be the final nail in the coffin for the show, truly proving that the new hosts will officially take over the focus of the game.

“The hunt for the new host became a public circus of ‘on-the-job tryouts’ featuring a glamorous roster of A-listers, and the star of the show became the week’s celebrity guest host,” the former Jeopardy! contestant explained.

“Each episode, their followers tuned in to root for them, not the actual contestants.”