Can we say “Holy bad decision, Batman?” Wow, who knew hiring a new Jeopardy! host would be so fraught with errors! Or that this would be such a crazy week! Or that I would be using so many exclamation points!!
The search for a new host (see my prior post) was one part interesting, one part fun and eight parts bittersweet. Alex hosted Jeopardy! with such ease that it was only when others stepped in that the required skill set became apparent.
For those unacquainted with this new-host debacle, here is a little summary:
- The first guest host*, executive producer Mike Richards, announces that he is stepping in as guest host because someone couldn’t appear due to COVID restrictions. Reaction: Awww. Isn’t that great that he could step in like that – what a good guy!
- We have a stream of guest hosts, some of whom might be interested in hosting but most are just there for the fun of it. It’s not entirely clear who falls into which category – transparency was not good during this process.
- This goes on for months and is often entertaining and raises a lot of money for charity – so yay!
- Behind the scenes, Sony has mostly settled on their expective producer Mike Richards – a fairly bland white guy. Now, there are lots of bland white guys doing perfectly well in jobs around the world. But they shouldn’t be hosting Jeopardy! in 2021. Maybe we can have one of those words or even two, but not all three together!
- It starts to get a little ugly when people like Levar Burton (and possibly other guest hosts) are left to believe that there is the potential for a job, rather than letting them know that the inside guy all but has the job sewn up.
- It starts to get a lot ugly when Mike’s past starts to catch up with him – there were lawsuits and podcasts with what seem to be, well, misogynistic, racist, anti-semitic, elitist, arrogant, … comments.
- Criticism continues when it appears that his oh-so-nice-for-stepping-in act is more like a grab for the job from the inside guy who is running the hiring process, decides what is shown to focus groups, and is generally not as disengaged from the process as he leads us to believe.
- As fans of the show lurch from one revelation to the next, our fun little show is starting to become mired in scandal. And just as we are trying to remember Alex’s integrity and respect for the show, he suddenly reappears – they have started rebroadcasting Alex’s favorite show categories. Someone is either really bad at marketing the new guy or really doesn’t like Mike.
- And it is obvious that Mike will have to go. There are calls for petitions and lots of disgruntled fans!
- And after one day officially as host, Mike is out! Given how quickly the Sony statement came after Mike’s announcement, I’m guessing this was a “go or we toss you out on your ear!” situation. … But, wait, he’s still executive producer, so maybe it’s more like a “sorry, guy, you can’t be out front but we still like you” situation.
Apparently they are looking to do another round of guest hosts. Oh dear!
My advice to Sony: CALL BUZZY! If he won’t answer, call Ken! Give one or the other whatever he wants, even if it’s only for a year, and move us all out of this uncomfortable place!
This is one of our few happy places in times of pandemic and violence and hate. Please don’t take that away!
*Ken Jennings was considered an interim host, not a guest host.