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Champion Ken Jennings will be first interim ‘Jeopardy!’ host

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 24, 2020

By Christie D’Zurilla Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Champion Ken Jennings is going to succeed the late Alex Trebek as “Jeopardy!” host – at least in the short term.

Jennings will be the first in a series of “interim guest hosts” of the classic game show when it resumes production Nov. 30, the show announced Monday. Those episodes will air the week of Jan. 11.

“Alex believed in the importance of ‘Jeopardy!’ and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him,” executive producer Mike Richards said in a statement. “We will honor his legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues.”

“Jeopardy!” wrapped production with Trebek on Oct. 29, a little more than a week before his death from pancreatic cancer Nov. 8.

Now, the show wants to create “a sense of community and continuity for our viewers” by bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, Richards said. Additional guest hosts will be announced in coming weeks.

Jennings, from Edmonds, Washington, is known as the “Jeopardy!” GOAT after winning a prime-time “Greatest of All Time” showdown in January that included fellow champions James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. He also holds the show’s records for most consecutive games won – 74 – and highest winnings in regular season play, at $2,520,700.

The show also revised its original plan, announced earlier this month, to air Trebek’s final episode on Christmas Day.

Instead, some of Trebek’s best episodes will rerun during the weeks of Dec. 21 and 28, with his final shows coming the week of Jan. 4 “in order to give his millions of fans a chance to see his final appearances” free from holiday hubbub.

Jennings was named a consulting producer on the show in September, which meant he presented his own video categories, developed projects, assisted with contestant outreach and served as a general “Jeopardy!” ambassador.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to remain involved with my favorite show,” Jennings said before the show returned to the air in mid-September after a pandemic-induced hiatus. “I’m still in on all the action, but I don’t have to worry about phrasing things in the form of a question anymore.”

His new role on the show sparked early speculation that Jennings was being groomed as Trebek’s successor.

Trebek had hosted the show since its revival in 1984.

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