NEW YORK — “Jeopardy!’ viewers are buzzing amid rumors that the long-running game show has decided who will be its next permanent host. Variety is reporting that the show is in “advanced negotiations” with executive producer Mike Richards to replace the legendary Alex Trebek, following his recent death from pancreatic cancer. The news won’t be music to all fans’ ears however. A recent poll reveals a different guest host is who Americans would like to see as Trebek’s successor.
If you said, “Who is Ken Jennings?”, you’d be correct! That’s according to a recent OnePoll survey, which asked a nationally representative sample of 1,003 Americans to weigh in on how ABC’s long-running game show has evolved since the death of Mr. Trebek in 2020.
Many fans anticipated that actor LeVar Burton would surely win the hearts of viewers following his debut on July 26. He might go twice as high as a butterfly in the sky, but he wasn’t good enough to change the minds of Jennings fans. The poll shows that 45 percent tuned into the initial broadcast of Burton’s debut episode on Monday, while another 28 percent saw clips after the airdate. After that one episode, four out of five (79%) respondents described Burton’s performance as either “good” or “great,” with less than two percent calling it “bad” or “terrible.”
Despite the rave reviews, only one in 10 believe the “Reading Rainbow” and “Star Trek” star should be the new permanent host of “Jeopardy!” Instead, the record-setting champion Jennings got the most votes, (23%) followed Richards (14%). Burton falls in behind them, in third place.
However, that still put the game show’s most recent guest host ahead of other recent hosts like CNN’s Anderson Cooper (5%), Dr. Mehmet Oz (4%), and CNBC’s David Ferber (1%) — who is set to follow Burton’s appearance in August.
The OnePoll-conducted survey also discovered that Burton is especially popular among older respondents. In fact, 86 percent of the panelists who think the actor should replace Trebek are over the age of 45.
Men are also responding more positively to Burton’s appearance than women, not just for his hosting skills (69% vs. 47%) but to the show itself. Researchers find men were twice as likely to claim that they watch every episode of “Jeopardy!” as it airs (32% vs. 15%).
This doesn’t mean the show’s appeal is split along gender lines; in fact, 86 percent of all respondents report having a positive opinion of “Jeopardy!” in general, while less than one percent — only five of 1,003 people — actively dislike the series.
‘Jeopardy’ host auditions not over yet
Of course, this new support isn’t counting the more than 260,000 fans online who’ve already signed an online petition within the last year, urging Sony Pictures Entertainment to hire Burton as Alex Trebek’s successor.
Trebek, who first shared news of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019, died of the illness last November at 80 years-old. “Jeopardy!” first began trying out guest hosts on March 8 with Ken Jennings taking the lead. The show plans to continue rolling out guest hosts through Aug. 13, including Fox sportscaster Joe Buck.
In a May episode of “The Journal,” a podcast series produced by the Wall Street Journal, executive producer Mike Richards said that viewers should expect to hear a final decision later this summer as Season 38 begins filming.
TOP TEN FAVORITE “JEOPARDY!” GUEST HOSTS (SO FAR):
- Ken Jennings (23%)
- Mike Richards (14%)
- LeVar Burton (10%)
- Mayim Bialik (8%)
- Aaron Rodgers (5%)
- Katie Couric (5%)
- Anderson Cooper (5%)
- Dr. Oz (4%)
- Robin Roberts (3%)
- George Stephanopoulos (2%)