The pop-culture zeitgiest was rocked hard last month, when longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek revealed that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The disease is one of the most virulent forms of cancer out there, but even though the prognosis didn't look good, Trebek maintained that he would be fighting it every step of the way, and still host Jeopardy! as he did so.
Trebek's declaration sounded comforting to Jeopardy! fans when he first said it, but a new report now indicates that Jeopardy! may be seeking a someone to fill Alex Trebek's shoes.
Radar Online points to the Straigh Shuter! podcast with pop-culture personality Rob Shuter, in which Shuter makes the claim that the powers that be behind Jeopardy! have already initiated the search for a replacement host. According to Shuter:
"'Alex is 78-years-old, and the show was already talking about a replacement host when he retired. Now with his health scare, that process has been accelerated,' sources told Straight Shuter... 'Jeopardy is still a very successful show and makes millions for the network. There was no way it was just going to end after Alex retired. The idea has always been to ‘refresh’ the formula, not change it."
When he first announced his cancer diagnosis, Trebek had the following to say about his commitment to Jeopardy!:
"Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working... with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. So help me. Keep the faith and we'll win. We'll get it done. Thank you."
He even brought a bit of much-needed levity to the tense situation, adding, "I have to: because under the terms of my contract, I have to host 'Jeopardy!' for three more years!"
Trebek has been the host of Jeopardy! since the show went to a syndicated daily format in 1984. He's become such a major pop-culture icon that it's nearly impossible for a lot of fans to imagine Jeopardy! without also envisioning Alex Trebek - and vice versa. He's one of a few game show hosts that have been appearing in America's living rooms for decades, and like with Price Is Right replacing Bob Barker after 35 years, Trebek moving on from Jeopardy! will be a legitimate (and emotional) cultural milestone.
It goes without saying that we wish for Alex Trebek to retire from Jeopardy! when he is fit and ready; not because a tragic turn in health forces the network's hand. We're still rooting for him.
Every the comedian, Trebek commented earlier this year (before the diagnosis) about who could replace him when he retired:
“It’s probably going to be a woman, somebody younger, somebody bright, somebody personable, somebody with a great sense of humor,” he said at the 92nd Street Y, joking, “So I nominated Betty White.”
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