When Ken Jennings arrived at the “Jeopardy!” studios in November for the first day of his audition to become the new host of the long-running quiz show, he found a gift waiting for him: a pair of Alex Trebek’s cuff links, along with a handwritten note from his widow, Jean.
Mr. Trebek, the “Jeopardy!” galaxy’s central star, had died of pancreatic cancer three weeks before, setting off a frenzy in Hollywood: one of the greatest jobs in television was available for the first time in 37 years. For some members of the “Jeopardy!” crew, the cuff links validated their assumption that Mr. Jennings, a genial Utahn who rose to fame in 2004 after winning a record 74 consecutive games, had been Mr.
Trebek’s preferred successor. (“Jeopardy!” producers had arranged for a phone call between Mr. Jennings and Mr. Trebek two days before he died.) But “Jeopardy!,” while a beloved cultural icon, is also a lucrative asset of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and in the television industry, sentiment only goes so far.
Sony Pictures Jeopardy! recently saw the departure of Mike Richards as the host. While Richards will stay on as EP, he will not be the permanent host on the long-running general knowledge game show. This was in light of the resurfacing of offensive comments that he made in the past, particularly about women. However, previously appointed Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will still host Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series.