NEW YORK – Following the death of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek on November 8, speculation on who will replace the longtime game show host continues. Among the names circulating, Greek-American ABC News chief anchor, political commentator, and Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos.
Trebek, who had announced in 2019 that he had advanced pancreatic cancer, died at his Los Angeles home, surrounded by family and friends, Jeopardy! studio Sony said.
The Canadian-born host, who made a point of informing fans about his health directly, spoke in a calm, even tone as he revealed his illness and hope for a cure in a video posted March 6, 2019.
In the video, Trebek said he was joining the 50,000 other Americans who receive such a diagnosis each year and that he recognized that the prognosis was not encouraging.
But Trebek said he intended to fight it and keep working, even joking that he needed to beat the disease because his Jeopardy! contract ran for three more years. Less than a week later, he opened the show with a message acknowledging the outpouring of kind words and prayers he'd received.
FILE – This May 5, 2019, file photo shows Alex Trebek gestures while presenting an award at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
"Thanks to the — believe it or not — hundreds of thousands of people who have sent in tweets, texts, emails, cards and letters wishing me well," Trebek said. "I'm a lucky guy.”
An outpouring of grief from former contestants and the wider public quickly followed news of his death at the age of 80.
"Alex wasn't just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I'm grateful for every minute I got to spend with him," tweeted Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. "Thinking today about his family and his Jeopardy! family — which, in a way, included millions of us."
On May 13, Stephanopoulos, 59, visited Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show where Stern suggested Stephanopoulos as Trebek's successor, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reported.
“The first thing I said was 'George Stephanopoulos' and everyone went, 'That ain't crazy.’ You've got the intellectual capacity,” Stern said, THR reported.
Stephanopoulos did not dismiss the idea if the job was offered to him, but said that “his family plays along at home and his daughters were excited by Stern's suggestion,” THR reported.
“I think it would be a lot of fun, but I like what I'm doing too,” Stephanopoulos said, adding that “I am not going to be Shermanesque about it. It's a great show. It's very flattering. Big shoes to fill,” THR reported.
“In September, Jennings, 46, was brought on as a consulting producer for the long-running quiz show, leading some fans to speculate he would be Trebek’s successor,” the New York Post reported, noting that “an ABC source denied that Stephanopoulos is pursuing the hosting role.”
The Wrap, however, reported that Stephanopoulos’ reps are “lobbying” for him to become the next host of the popular show.
The day after Trebek passed away, the show's executive producer, Mike Richards addressed viewers from the Jeopardy! set in a taped introduction.
"Over the weekend we lost our beloved host, Alex Trebek. This is an enormous loss for our staff, for our crew, for his family, for his millions of fans," said Richards. "He loved this show and everything it stood for.”
Richards said Trebek taped his final episodes less than two weeks ago. Beginning with the November 9 episode, those last shows hosted by Trebek are set to air through December 25.
"He will forever be an inspiration for his constant desire to learn, for his kindness and for his love of his family," said Richards. "We will air his final 35 episodes as they were shot. That's what he wanted. On behalf of everyone here at 'Jeopardy!' thank you for everything, Alex.”
Richards concluded with the show's trademark opening — "This is Jeopardy!" — which was followed by a moment of silence on the Jeopardy! set with lights dimmed.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.