Now the void must be stuffed however the beloved recreation present is taking its time. As an alternative over the previous few months, “Jeopardy!” has featured a parade of visitor hosts doing their finest to impress viewers and the studio that is anticipated to make the decision earlier than the brand new season begins taping later this summer season.
Consider Sony Footage Tv as clutching the rose, and Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and “Jeopardy!” champs Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen among the many suitors to date, with extra to return together with Robin Roberts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and LeVar Burton.
Sony has “probably the most sturdy group of individuals I’ve ever seen this and analyzing it in a really cerebral means,” mentioned government producer Mike Richards. “It’s an actual change from the best way casting has historically been carried out on tv.”
“It’s often been a intestine intuition of the top government: ‘How about that particular person?’” Richards mentioned.
That was producer-entertainer Merv Griffin’s strategy when he introduced a syndicated model of “Jeopardy!” to TV, 5 years after the quiz present’s final community iteration wrapped in 1979 on NBC. A phrase from Lucille Ball, of “I Love Lucy” fame, and Trebek’s talent and expertise sealed his rent.
Viewers and demanding regard for the Canadian-born Trebek grew through the years, which makes discovering a worthy substitute each a gesture of respect for the late host and the means to guard a company asset. Whereas rankings have shifted below the visitor hosts, “Jeopardy!” stays among the many top-ranked syndicated packages in viewership.
Trebek helped construct the present’s “show of excellence along with his personal excellence. And it’s tremendously tough to seek out someone to interchange him, not solely due to the standing that he had within the American creativeness,” mentioned Deepak Sarma, a Case Western Reserve College professor and Netflix cultural advisor. “Anybody who’s going to take his place might be judged in the long run in opposition to this mannequin of perfection.”
Recreation present hosts of Trebek’s period had been often radio and TV broadcasting veterans steeped within the style, and virtually invariably white males. Among the many “Jeopardy!” subs are women and men of coloration and prospects from a wide range of fields, together with NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The strategy is smart to Louis Virtel, a longtime fan whose vantage level is knowledgeable by writing for a recreation present (“Match Recreation”) and competing on “Jeopardy!” in 2015.
“It’s nice to see all these completely different fill-ins. I’m open to options, and I feel most individuals are,” mentioned Virtel, a “Jimmy Kimmel Stay!” author and co-host of the “Preserve It” podcast. “‘Jeopardy!’ is a one-of-a-kind present, and the substitute ought to be tailor-made to the sport.”
What makes for a very good “Jeopardy!” host?
“I feel establishing a way of consolation (so) the viewers simply eases into the sport,” Virtel mentioned. “Additionally a way of stakes, that an actual robust recreation is being performed. It’s referred to as ‘Jeopardy!’ for a cause. The host is there to ensure we’re all on our toes.”
The try-outs are an unusually public type of auditioning, one that might trigger flop sweat even for veteran emcees. For actor Bialik of “Blossom,” “The Massive Bang Principle” and “Name Me Kat,” any nerves had been crowded out by the calls for of the job — and he or she’s a neuroscientist.
“There’s little or no room for not being 100% dialed in to the job of internet hosting when you’re on that stage,” Bialik mentioned in an electronic mail. It proved probably the most “joyful, difficult, transcendent act I’ve undertaken — second solely to giving delivery to my second son on the ground of my front room.”
Again within the day, there have been solely a handful of pioneers like Betty White, the primary feminine recreation present host to win a Daytime Emmy (for 1983’s “Simply Males!”), and Adam Wade, a Black singer who hosted the 1975 recreation present “Musical Chairs.”
Wayne Brady, Steve Harvey and Meredith Vieira are amongst those that made additional inroads, with stress solely rising on the leisure business to mirror America extra broadly on display screen.
However taking on for an authority determine like Trebek is more durable on girls and others not sometimes seen in such roles, mentioned Sarma.
“The types of expectations positioned on an individual of coloration in a management place are often increased than these positioned on a white particular person in place of energy,” he mentioned, and any error or “slight motion in opposition to the norm is jumped upon … as some great mistake.”
There might be backlash from these resentful that Trebek is not changed like-for-like, which Sarma mentioned is not far-fetched on this interval of social discord.
“Sony is in a pickle,” he mentioned.
Sequence producer Richards, the second short-term host after Trebek’s pancreatic most cancers demise final November at age 80, holds an optimistic view regardless of the prospect of on-line trolls and no matter their gripes concerning the beginner could also be.
“My hope is that whoever is chosen might be given an opportunity to show why they had been chosen, with out an excessive amount of static,” he mentioned. “In the end, we are attempting to place out one of the best product for our followers. That tends to slim your focus to a reasonably good North Star, versus, ‘What’s the web going to say?'”
The Related Press contributed to this report.