The all-knowing, Canadian, quiz show treasure that is Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is reportedly stepping down when his contract expires in 2016 and the search for his successor has apparently begun. The New York Post is reporting that Matt Lauer could be in prime position for the gig, as well as a few other big names.
From the Post:
Lauer is widely reported to be on his way out at the morning show, which has tumbled to No. 2 in the ratings in the last year. He is being blamed for the show’s fall from grace after 16 years on top.
The Post reported this week that Lauer is not expected to re-sign with “Today” when his blockbuster, $25-million-a-year deal expires in 2015.
Along with Lauer, CNN’s Anderson Cooper – whose talk show was cancelled and whose contract with CNN ends this year – Deadline Hollywood reported that Sony Pictures Television, which owns Jeopardy!, has also approached NBC Nightly News anchor and Rock Center host Brian Williams, as well as NBC Sports personality and radio host (and my personal sports yogi) Dan Patrick. Patrick has talked on his radio show about trying out – and being passed over – for the Price is Right hosting gig that eventually went to Drew Carey. Deadline says that they have heard “all four [candidates] have had exploratory conversations with Sony TV, though the studio is not actively pursuing anyone at the moment.”
The Post also said that Trebek has made his retirement plans clear:
Trebek — who suffered his second heart attack last summer — said in interviews last year that he was thinking about retiring this season.
But Sony convinced him to sign one final, three-year contract — taking him to age 76 — to give producers enough time to find a next-generation successor.
Obviously, Patrick and Williams have full-time jobs (plural), but if Cooper and Lauer are unemployed and binge-eating, while watching “Good Morning America” every morning, the possibility of a steady game show hosting gig would sound pretty nice. But if Lauer and Cooper are employed by another show in 2016, they could pull double-duty like Meredith Vieira did when she hosted Today and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. This Trebek-less-ness feeling that we’ll all share is still in the distant future, but if Jeopardy! is this much of a priority to Sony TV, the new host could be locked up with a contract sooner than expected. While all the candidates listed are indeed qualified and fully adept at hosting, none seem to have the intellectual superiority or smug elitism and sly charisma that Trebek exudes. Ok, maybe Brian Williams does, but the news must be reported.
In closing, I’ll take Ken Jennings for Jeopardy! host, Alex.