Ken Jennings, perhaps the most winning-est contestant in the history of the Jeopardy television game show, has been named its first interim guest host.
Jennings’s appointment follows the death of longtime iconic Alex Trebeck earlier this month. Jennings had recently joined the show earlier this year as a consulting producer. His first episodes will tape November 30 for airing in January. He will be the first in a series of guest hosts before the show presumably settles on a new permanent host at soome point in the future. None of the other guest hosts have been named.
In a statement, Jeopardy executive producer Mike Richards said –
Alex believed in the importance of Jeopardy and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him. We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.
Trebeck taped his last episodes on October 29th, just days before his passing on November 4. Initially these episodes were slated to play out until December 25.
Producers have now decided that they will instead air ten episodes that they feel are Trebeck’s best during the last two weeks of the month, before airing the final week’s worth of Trebeck’s episodes.
Jennings’s first episode will air on January 11.
Jennings first came to prominence in the Jeopardy world in 2004 when he set the show’s records for consecutive games won at 74 and most winnings in regular play ($2,520,700). Over the years he has also made a number of return appearances on the show for special tournaments, most recently earlier this year in the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time event.
Needless to say, Jennings is the perfect pick to start off this transition period for the show. Thanks to the way his 74 game winning streak captured the pop culture zeitgeist in 2004, his is probably the most recognizable name and face associated with the show after Trebeck’s himself. And in the intervening years he has sometimes been seen as a goodwill ambassador for the show and following Trebeck’s passing, many fans called on social media suggested him to replace Trebek behind the host’s podium.
With producers still ruminating who could take on the position of a permanent host, it is hard not to see this upcoming series of guest hosts as something of an extended audition period.