What Is Drama? The Bungled Plan at ‘Jeopardy!’ to Choose a New Host

Hosted by Dodai Stewart

Reporting by Michael M. Grynbaum and Nicole Sperling

Produced by Tracy Mumford and Tally Abecassis

Edited by Phyllis Fletcher and Wendy Dorr

Engineered by Corey Schreppel

The late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek played himself in a 1992 episode of “The Golden Girls.”Credit…Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank via, Getty Images

When Alex Trebek, the beloved host of “Jeopardy!,” died in November from pancreatic cancer, the game show had to face a grim reality: How would it move on without the man who was the heart of the show? Mr. Trebek, with his calm and steadying voice, had been a fixture in American living rooms for 37 years.

Sony Pictures Entertainment led a monthslong search for Mr. Trebek’s successor, and more than a dozen guest hosts stepped behind the lectern. On Aug. 11, when the network announced that Mike Richards, the executive producer of “Jeopardy!,” would become the new host, this led to a cascading P.R. disaster that resulted in his resignation about a week later.

As “Jeopardy!” returned this week for a new season, we looked at how one of the most pure and unchanging TV institutions became tangled in scandal. Why has the search for Mr. Trebek’s successor gone so terribly wrong?

In this podcast episode:

  • Dodai Stewart, a deputy editor for Narrative Projects at The New York Times.

  • Nicole Sperling, a media and entertainment reporter for The Times. “It was the last bastion of purity in our lives and that too has been sullied by drama,” she said about “Jeopardy!”

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