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Source: Jeopardy.com

Ken Jennings Is the New Host of 'Jeopardy!' — but the Arrangement Is Temporary

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After receiving a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was very open with fans about his health, which went through some highs and lows. After several months of treatment, he announced he had finished cancer treatment and was feeling great, but unfortunately, he experienced a setback just a few weeks later.

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On Sept. 17, 2019, the host, who had been delivering clues to trivia masters for over 35 years, told GMA that, after the first round of treatment, his numbers had been in the normal range, so he switched to immunotherapy. Unfortunately, things quickly took a turn. "I lost about 12 pounds in a week. And my numbers went sky high, much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed. So, the doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that's what I'm doing."

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Source: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Alex Trebek, winner of the Outstanding Game Show Host award, poses at the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on May 05, 2019 in Pasadena, California.

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Sadly, Alex died on Nov. 8, 2020, at the age of 80. The official Jeopardy! Twitter account shared that he passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his family and friends.

While Alex's many, many fans mourn his passing, it's also natural to wonder what the future of Jeopardy! will look like now that the beloved host will no longer be chatting with contestants and reading clues (with his incredible ability to pronounce every single word perfectly).

Who will replace Alex Trebek on 'Jeopardy!'?

The short answer is that Alex is irreplaceable, but despite his long tenure as host, he would not want the show to end with his reign. In a Vulture interview, he said his retirement shouldn't be the end. "It should, and will, go on after I'm done." The trouble is, there have only been two hosts in the history of the show: Art Fleming (1964-1975; 1978-1979) and Alex, from 1984 to 2020.

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But equally iconic game show hosts have passed the baton before — like Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right for 35 years. In fact, until 2014, Bob held the record for most episodes hosted by the same presenter. Who surpassed him? You guessed it: Alex Trebek.

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Source: Marc Bryan-Brown/WireImage

Alex Trebek and Bob Barker during 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

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Prior to his death, the host had given some thought to who he'd like to see take his place if and when he were to step back. During a talk at 92nd Street Y in February of 2020, he suggested CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, L.A. Kings announcer Alex Faust, and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

Alex joked about who he would want to replace him on 'Jeopardy.'

While Alex had no official say in who will take his place now that his reign as the show's host is over, he used to joke about who he would pick if it were up to him.

In an interview with Good Morning America, in which Alex talked about resuming filming for Jeopardy, he jokingly revealed who he would want to replace him.

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Source: Getty Images

(L-R) Laura Coates, Alex Faust, Ben Mankiewicz

"I joke with the audience all the time and I say, 'Betty White,' because they want somebody younger, somebody funnier," he said. "Betty and I have been friends for a long, long time."

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Fans have some other ideas about potential replacements. Former contestants like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer get thrown around quite a bit, but both Alex and show sources have indicated that they may be looking specifically for a woman and/or a person of color to replace Trebek. Whoever it is would have to be somebody whip-smart, though. Even with the answers in front of the host, it's hard work reading all those complex clues with minimal mistakes.

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Source: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek poses with "Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer backstage at the 2019 NHL Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Some possible candidates who fit some or all of the criteria suggested include Gayle King, former Power Players tournament contestant Laura Logan, or Ann Curry.

For now, 'Jeopardy!' will feature interim guest hosts.

On Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Jeopardy! team announced that they would be resuming production on the show starting on Nov. 30 with a series of interim guest hosts who have been part of the show's "family" through the years. First up on the docket is none other than Ken Jennings, who shared that he's honored to take on the role and help the production out.

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As a tribute to the beloved late host, Jeopardy! will air 10 of his best episodes between Dec. 21 and Dec. 28. Alex's final week of episodes — which were recorded in October of 2020 — will begin airing on Jan. 4, 2020.

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