The search to find a replacement for Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is reportedly in high gear after the longtime television fixture said he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last month.
"Alex is 78-years-old, and the show was already talking about a replacement host when he retired. Now with his health scare, that process has been accelerated," a source told Radar Online's Straught Schuter: Naughty But Nice podcast with Rob Shuter.
The sources told Shuter that the show is "still a very successful show and makes millions," adding, "There was no way it was just going to end after Alex retired. The idea has always been to ‘refresh’ the formula, not change it."
It is still not clear who would replace Trebek, 78, but the sources told Shuter the producers have some ideas already.
“Talk about his replacement has always centered around finding a female host and someone of color,” the sources said. “But at the same time, they want someone smart and well-educated. Someone that is respected and trustworthy. They are aiming more for Gayle King than Real Housewife Nene Leakes!”
In the past, Trebek has proposed replacements. During an event in New York in February, Trebek listed possible attributes for a new Jeopardy! host.
“It’s probably going to be a woman, somebody younger, somebody bright, somebody personable, somebody with a great sense of humor,” he said. “So I nominated Betty White.”
More seriously though, his list of possible replacements include Turner Class Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, CNN's Laura Coates and Los Angeles Kings announcer Alex Faust.
Trebek signed a new contract extension in November to keep him behind the Jeopardy! podium through 2022. He plans to keep working through his cancer battle.
"Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working," Trebek explained in a video released by the Jeopardy! producers in March. "And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."
He later joked, "Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you."
In a follow-up video, Trebek thanked his fans and past contestants for reaching out to him with well-wishes.
"I am thankful for the kind words, the prayers and the advice you have offered and I am extremely touched by the warmth you have expressed in your comments to me," Trebek said. "I’m a lucky guy."
Trebek has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984. The game show launched in 1964 with the late Art Fleming as host. The series is now syndicated and produced by Sony Pictures Television.
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