How Can ‘Jeopardy!’ Replace Alex Trebek? See Game-Show History


When Bob Barker left “The Value Is Proper” after 35 years of giving out automobiles and holidays to Hawaii, many individuals questioned whether or not the present would survive.

For a lot of viewers, “The Value Is Proper” was not a lot about guessing the price of, say, a brand new dinette set because it was about Barker’s reassuringly acquainted smile, his grandfatherly presence and the way in which he bellowed “Come on down!” to scores of exuberant contestants. In 2007, when he retired, there was no clear substitute.

The present auditioned a number of potential candidates, one in every of whom was Mike Richards, who was then the host of a actuality present referred to as “Magnificence and the Geek.” Richards didn’t get the half. However a few 12 months later, he could be introduced in as an govt producer to assist work out how the present might thrive with its new host: the comic Drew Carey.

Now Richards must engineer one other profitable recreation present succession.

“Jeopardy!” started a brand new period Monday with out Alex Trebek, its host of 36 years, who died in November and whose final episode was broadcast Friday. And whereas this system will flip to a collection of interim hosts at first, the duty of creating a everlasting substitute will fall to Richards, now the chief producer of “Jeopardy!” He’s trying again to the transition at “The Value Is Proper” for clues about how you can exchange a beloved recreation present host who has constructed up a long time of viewers loyalty.

“Alex is a legend,” Richards mentioned. “Changing a legend goes to be nerve wracking. In case you’re not nervous then you definately’re not paying consideration.”

It’s one thing of a marvel that reveals like “Jeopardy!,” whose first iteration aired in 1964, and “The Value Is Proper,” whose first model began in 1956, are even round right now. Each of those considerably retro recreation reveals have survived a technological revolution and a long time of evolving pop-culture appetites. However the selections on who must be their new faces carry excessive stakes: If viewers don’t like the selection, they are going to merely change the channel.

The important thing to profitable new hosts, Richards mentioned, is discovering individuals who can play to their very own strengths reasonably than mimicking their predecessors. That was the core of the issue that Richards recognized when he was introduced in to “The Value Is Proper” in 2008, when scores have been struggling after Barker’s departure.

“They have been making an attempt to make Drew host Bob’s present,” Richards recalled. “And I believed it was crucial that Drew host Drew’s model of ‘The Value Is Proper.’”

Carey mentioned that Barker himself had given him comparable recommendation throughout the transition.

“He mentioned, ‘Go in there and don’t attempt to copy me. Do the present your personal method,’” Carey mentioned in an interview. “He was proper. I can’t go in and do a Bob Barker impersonation.”

However when Carey first bought there, the present was nonetheless carefully following the script of the Barker years.

On the high of the present, a wall with a brightly coloured ’70s-esque emblem would break up open, revealing Carey, who was launched as “the star of ‘The Value Is Proper.’” As Barker had for many years, Carey would absorb the applause.

The system didn’t fairly work for Carey, coming off as a bit awkward. He and Richards agreed that whereas Barker had a confident, authoritative air as host, Carey’s strengths lay in his interactions with viewers members and his colleagues onstage.

“I’m like a man enjoying together with you or serving to you up onstage and being Mr. Pleasant,” Carey mentioned of his extra down-to-earth method.

So, they modified the doorway. Carey was now not launched because the “star” of the present, however as its “host.” Within the new system, Carey would velocity stroll by means of the door, wave to the viewers and shortly begin greeting his fellow solid members onstage, together with the present’s announcer, George Grey. In a 24-minute video analyzing the altering method to the present’s opening, John Teti, a pop-culture critic, mentioned that the camerawork within the opening sequence advanced so as to add in a “carnival journey movement” that has the impact of creating the viewer “a bit of giddy.”

To present Carey extra folks to banter with onstage, Richards determined to offer the fashions with microphones, now not relegating them to miming beside furnishings units and scorching tubs. He additionally got down to modernize the prizes in order that they might absorb a bit extra of the eye: As an alternative of merely making a gift of a visit to Hawaii, for instance, they’d add in one thing like a Ferrari rental and an evening out on a yacht, Richards mentioned.

Carey is now in his 14th 12 months as host, and he says that he’s turn into so comfy with the sport play that he now not looks like he wants to stay solely to the script. He may even think about a future through which he surpasses Barker’s 35-year tenure, making him into the host who feels unattainable to interchange.

Regardless of his philosophy round reimagining the present within the new host’s picture, Richards acknowledges the inevitability of the viewers evaluating the following host of “Jeopardy!” to Trebek. The job gained’t come with out some anxiousness.

So Richards is taking it gradual. As an alternative of naming a brand new host immediately, the present has determined to check out numerous visitor hosts and see how their viewers responds.

On Monday, the trial interval begins with Ken Jennings, the record-breaking “Jeopardy!” contestant, who has already taped at the very least 30 episodes. No different visitor hosts have been introduced, however The Los Angeles Times reported that Katie Couric has been tapped as one other short-term host. Richards mentioned that it was not solely the viewers that may want time to regulate earlier than a everlasting successor to Trebek is known as.

“Emotionally,” he mentioned, “I’m not prepared for that.”



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