Jeopardy! will air its first batch of episodes without its original host Alex Trebek starting January 11th, 2021. But instead of introducing a new permanent presenter right away, the game show will have several guests fill in as host while it looks for a long-term replacement for Trebek, who died in November.
In a statement released last week, executive producer Mike Richards revealed that Trebek “believed in the importance of Jeopardy! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him.” Richards added that the show will honor Trebek’s “legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues.” To create a sense of community and continuity for the show’s loyal viewers, Richards announced that they are “bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future.”
Production on the new season began on Monday with Ken Jennings as the show’s first interim host. Jennings, who joined the Jeopardy! as consulting producer ahead of season 37, holds the show’s all-time records for most consecutive games won (74) and highest winnings in regular-season play ($2,520,700). He was also crowned greatest Jeopardy! contestant of all time following a multi-night, prime-time event in January, in which he defeated fellow top-money winners James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter.
Shortly after the announcement of his temporary hosting stint, Jennings tweeted that “there will only ever be one Alex Trebek” but he’s “honored to be helping Jeopardy! out” with continuing the show as it looks for Trebek’s successor. It’s not clear, however, if Jennings will host the show for just a few days, weeks, or months.
There will only ever be one Alex Trebek, but I'm honored to be helping Jeopardy! out with this in January. https://t.co/2m2b5IQnkw
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 23, 2020
Despite announcing that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March 2019, Trebek continued to work on the show while undergoing treatment. Though he was able to report to work when taping resumed following its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trebek died last November 8th at the age of 80.
At the time of Trebek’s death, Jeopardy! was not in production but had taped enough episodes to run through December 25th. The show, however, announced last week that Trebek’s final episodes will instead air beginning the week of January 4th. Ten of Trebek’s best episodes will also start airing from the week of December 21st to the week of December 28th.