The Jeopardy! guest host carousel has had mixed results for the beloved game show so far, with the most controversial two weeks in the show's history coming between March 22 and April 2, when Dr. Mehmet Oz hosted. The decision to feature Oz on the show was criticized by fans and former contestants due to the Dr. Oz Show host's long history of touting debunked medical claims on his show. Now that his run on Jeopardy! is over, contestants are speaking out, with one even accusing him of making fun of her during production.
During an interview with The Ringer, contestant Emily Seaman described the experience as "odd." She noted that producers went "so far with the COVID protection," but "then they had this guy who touted hydroxychloroquine." She also noted how Oz struggled to say "Antidisestablishmentarianism," which was the name of a Final Jeopardy! category in Seaman's second episode.
"He just couldn’t get it," Seaman recalled. "And more than that he couldn’t get it, he didn’t know when he hadn’t gotten it, so it kind of seemed like the producers were like, Are you gonna tell him that we’ve done this six times and he didn’t get it? Everybody in the audience... was like, That’s not how you say that." Due to coronavirus restrictions, the only audience at the taping was the other contestants.
In another episode, Seaman answered almost every clue in one category correctly, but time ran out before she could get to the last clue. After that, Oz made fun of her, Seaman claimed. "I heard him making fun of it to one of the producers. Like, ‘I can’t believe they didn’t get this one.’ I was like, cool, bro, let’s see you do this," she told The Ringer. “It was just odd... I don’t think he likes Jeopardy!”
Some Jeopardy! fans wondered why contestants did not walk out when they saw Oz was the host. Seaman said if she did that, she was not going to get called back. "You walk out of there and that's your one chance," she said. She flew all the way from Houston to Los Angeles in the middle of a pandemic and did not want to miss her one chance to be on Jeopardy! Plus, she had to pay for her flights and hotel room.
Oz was picked as one of the celebrities to fill in while the Jeopardy! producers decide on a permanent replacement for the late Alex Trebek. After Oz was announced, over 600 former contestants and fans signed a petition demanding he not host. Like the other celebrity guests, Oz appeared as a celebrity contestant on the show in the past.0comments
Executive producer Mike Richards, who guest hosted himself after Ken Jennings, defended the decision to have Oz host. “I have seen positive and negative about everyone we’ve announced, beginning with Ken,” Richards told The Ringer. “I hope people find kindness as each person comes through, because there’s been backlash with everyone, and so based on that, we’d never have anyone. I think it will be really interesting to see once the shows start airing. I think things in the abstract are way worse than in the concrete.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is hosting his last week of Jeopardy! through April 16. CNN's Anderson Cooper will be the next host, from April 19 to 30. 60 Minutes' Bill Whitaker, actress Mayim Bialik, Today's Savannah Guthrie and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will host later this season.