Former 'Jeopardy!' Champion Says Show Didn't Respect 'Alex Trebek's Wishes'

Former Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu is coming down on the show's producers for not being "respectful" of late host Alex Trebek when it comes to appointing his successor. Trebek was beloved as the game show's host from 1984 until his death in 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, and Chu told Newsweek in an interview Tuesday he thinks Trebek's clear choice to follow him behind the podium has been overlooked.

Chu, who had an 11-day win streak in 2014, told the publication that while he has no strong personal opinion on who is appointed the next full-time host of the show, he thought interim co-host Ken Jennings should have been made the official host already. "I was rooting for Ken Jennings as host out of solidarity as a fellow former contestant and because it really seems like he was Alex Trebek's choice for a successor, hence Trebek giving him his cufflinks and having him narrate his audiobook," Chu said.

He continued that while he would need to know more behind-the-scenes info before making an informed opinion, he thought there were "clear signs" Jennings was Trebek's "preferred successor," and he believes it "would have been more respectful to abide by his wishes." Chu also admitted he wasn't thrilled about Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik being named a temporary co-host, pointing to her past comments about vaccines and the #MeToo movement. 

Chu called the comments the actress has made "unfortunate," adding, "That said, while she hasn't given the apology I wish she would have upon being named to this position, she hasn't continued to push any of these ideas as host, and sometimes you have to reluctantly accept that all the famous people you enjoy seeing onscreen have something problematic from their past."

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Despite the recent hosting upheavals, including former executive producer Mike Richards' short-lived stint as permanent host, Chu said he believes the show is going "as well as can be expected," but needed to name Trebek's successor as quickly as possible. As for what the perfect host would bring to the table, Chu answered, "Primarily a steady hand, a willingness to stick to the background and 'let the contestants be the stars,' as Alex Trebek put it, and a capacity for being relatable, human and reassuring without crossing the line to taking the spotlight themselves."