Over the past few decades, Jeopardy! has grown into a television institution, partially thanks to the delightful onscreen persona of host Alex Trebek. Trebek's tenure on Jeopardy! has become a frequent topic of conversation over the past year or so, after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer made the idea of him leaving the show a little bit more real. Trebek has made clear that he plans to stay on the show "as long as [his] skills have not diminished". While it's unclear exactly how much longer that will entail, Trebek answered one major question regarding the future of Jeopardy! -- whether or not he will have an influence in who could eventually become his replacement.
“It’s not a decision that would be up to me. And I would not make myself available to presenting an opinion,” Trebek told TVLine at the Television Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month. “I would leave it up to the people in charge.”
“[Alex] really has no interest in being involved in that process,” Jeopardy! executive producer Harry Friedman later explained. “We would welcome his opinion, obviously, but he feels like it’s really not up to him. And he has said that for a long time.”
Even then, Trebek has spoken several times about who he'd eventually like to see succeed him -- and offered one particular pop culture icon as an option.
“When people ask me who I’d like to see replace me, I say, ‘Well, it’s probably going to be a woman, and she’ll have to be bright, she’ll have to have a good sense of humor…'" Trebek explained. "Uhhhh, let’s see…. Betty White! Betty White is my choice.”
While the idea of seeing the 98-year-old Golden Girls star and national treasure host Jeopardy! is pretty delightful, it's unclear if that will ever actually shake out by the time Trebek takes his final bow - a moment that he has already begun to play out.
“It’ll be a significant moment for me,” Trebek explained in an interview last month. “But I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the showdown to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want.’ And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me...then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”
Who would you want to see host Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek leaves the show? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!