Seattle’s Ken Jennings has been named the first in a series of interim guest hosts from “within the ‘Jeopardy!’ family” when the long-running quiz show resumes production on Nov. 30, the show’s producers said Monday.
They are not naming a long-term replacement for host at this time.
The 46-year-old Jennings, who has more than $4 million in career game show earnings, including his January 2020 $1 million win in the prime-time special tournament, “Jeopardy!: The Greatest of All Time,” has been widely speculated as in the running for the permanent job.
The guest host plan marks the first announcement about the future of the series since the Nov. 8 death of longtime host Alex Trebek.
“Alex believed in the importance of ‘Jeopardy!’ and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him,” ‘Jeopardy!’ executive producer Mike Richards said in a news release. “We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues. By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers.”
No additional guest hosts have been announced, nor has a time frame been set for when the series might name a new permanent host.
Jennings was not immediately available for an interview, according to a show representative.
In September, “Jeopardy!” hired Jennings and gave him the title of “consulting producer.” At the time, Jennings downplayed the possibility that he was being considered as Trebek’s replacement, telling The Seattle Times, “I think that’s reading too much into it,” saying his role was envisioned more as a “Jeopardy!” brand ambassador who would present his own categories on the show.
Jennings first appeared on “Jeopardy!” in 2004, winning 74 straight games. He’s appeared in multiple tournaments since, earning enough notoriety to be the show’s second most familiar name, trailing only Trebek.
Trebek’s death came more than a year after he was diagnosed with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer.
In January while promoting the “GOAT” tournament during the Television Critics Association meeting in Pasadena, California, Trebek said he had a plan for how he would end his run on the game show. He envisioned asking “Jeopardy!” executive producer Harry Friedman, “Give me 30 seconds at the end of the program. That’s all I need to say goodbye, because it’s going to be the last show.”
A “Jeopardy!” representative confirmed earlier this month that did not happen. Trebek did not know the last show he recorded — taped Oct. 29, 10 days before his death — would be his last episode.
Initially the show announced Trebek’s final new episode as host would air on Christmas Day. That plan has changed. On the weeks of Dec. 21 and 28, a selection of 10 of Trebek’s best episodes will air. Trebek’s last episodes will now air the week of Jan. 4, with episodes guest-hosted by Jennings slated to begin airing Jan. 11.
This article has been updated to clarify when Alex Trebek’s last episodes will air.