On Monday, Couric made history as the first woman to ever be at the helm of the popular quiz show. Additionally, she appropriately made her debut as guest-host on International Women’s Day. Previously, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and producer Mike Richards filled in as interim hosts. The longtime Today anchor will now host the game show from March 8 to March 19 before Dr. Mehmet Oz takes over on March 22.
During an interview with People, Couric talked about her temporary role as host. She talked about what she learned about herself while on Jeopardy! and cast her vote for Jennings as the new permanent host. In addition, she opened up about the late Alex Trebek and how his spirit is ever-present on the show.
“Alex Trebek was honestly so admired and heralded for being at the helm of that show for more than three decades. I think everyone was crushed when he passed away,” Kaite Couric explained. “But it’s a real honor to at least try to keep his spirit alive, and to be a part of what I think is not really a game show, but is really an American institution.”
“I think Alex’s spirit is very much alive in those halls and in that studio and in the make-up room, and everywhere. I think the folks there are still really hurting from that loss. So, I’m glad that I can just hopefully provide a bridge to whatever their plans are in the future. It made it very special for me. And I hope they feel that I did his memory justice,” Couric added.
‘Jeopardy!’ Continues With Its Guest-Host Lineup
Jeopardy! executives have yet to commit to any permanent host for the game show. Instead, they’ve chosen to utilize a series of celebrity interim hosts, which buys them time to make sure they hire the right person for the iconic hosting gig.
With Jennings and Richards’ guest-hosting duties fulfilled, Couric is currently the host. Next up is Dr. Mehmet Oz and then Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take over on April 5. The rest of the hosting schedule has yet to be released. But the show has announced more future temporary celebrity hosts. They include Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Mayim Bialik, Bill Whitaker, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Previous interim and Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards explained the importance of guest hosts to the show. It gives the show a chance to test out a variety of candidates. Plus it gives them time to show respect for Trebek’s decades-long career before he passed away in November.
“We’re gonna look at… people that are credible giving the clues, people that can actually give the clues accurately. That are going to be able to rule right or wrong on the responses. And that Jeopardy! fans will enjoy in that role. But that will not try to make themselves the star. And will work to make the contestants and the game the star,” Richards told EW. “There’ll be a wide range of, I think, big names that you’ll go, ‘Oh yeah, of course,’ and then my hope is that there’s a couple of. ‘Oh, I hadn’t thought of that person, and I’d like to see what that looks like hosting Jeopardy!.”