George Stephanopoulos’ Rep Lobbies For Him to Become Next Host of ‘Jeopardy!’ (Exclusive)

Longtime host Alex Trebek died Sunday following a battle with pancreatic cancer; others are actively pursuing the vacant role

alex trebek george stephanopoulos
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Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman On the Business of Entertainment

The founder and editor of TheWrap’s take on life on the left coast, high culture, low culture and the business of entertainment and media. Waxman writes frequently on the inside doings of Hollywood, and is is also the author of two books, Rebels on the Back Lot and Loot

Following Alex Trebek’s death on Sunday at age 80, George Stephanopoulos’ rep is lobbying for the ABC News anchor to become the next host of the hit game show “Jeopardy!,” a highly placed person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. Stephanopoulos’s agent Alan Berger did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment, but a knowledgeable individual close to the “Good Morning America” co-host denied that he was “actively” pursuing the role. However, the highly placed person told TheWrap that Stephanopoulos has his eye on the lucrative position and that his agent was lobbying hard at ABC, where he serves as ABC News’ chief anchor and political correspondent. ABC-owned TV stations have held the syndication rights to the game show for decades, but there are other stake holders who will have a say in choosing Trebek’s replacement: distributor CBS Television and producer Sony Television. A spokesperson for ABC News declined to comment. Neither Sony nor CBS Television responded to requests for comment.
ABC NEWS – Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABC News’ NIGHTLINE and GOOD MORNING AMERICA: WEEKEND EDITION. (ABC/ Ida Mae Astute)
Other members of the ABC News division, including weekend “GMA” anchor Dan Harris, are also pitching themselves as the next “Jeopardy!” host, according to the insider. A spokesperson for Harris did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. Even before Trebek’s death, there had been suggestions that former champion Ken Jennings might be a contender to take over as the show’s host. This season, Jennings was named a consulting producer, a job that includes some on-camera presentation. Many people in the industry saw that hiring as a signal that Jennings, a legend among fans of the show and a popular Twitter personality, was being groomed to replace Trebek upon retirement or death. “The show is not announcing plans for a new host at this time,” “Jeopardy!” said as part of a media announcement on Sunday. Trebek, who has hosted the show since its 1984 relaunch, had batch-taped enough episodes so that his final appearance will air on Christmas Day 2020. He taped his final episode in the studio on Oct. 29, the show said. ABC’s syndication deal for the program was re-upped in late 2018. Stephanopoulos will turn 60 in February. Before his days as a TV newsman, he was a Democratic political operative and President Bill Clinton’s White House communications director. Though Stephanopoulos carries a lofty title and a great deal of respect at ABC News, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir is being positioned as the future of the Disney-owned media brand’s news operation, the insider said. In recent years, ABC News has made strides in TV ratings with the 47-year-old Muir as the anchor of its nightly news broadcast. In addition to co-anchoring”Good Morning America” alongside Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan, Stephanopoulos also hosts the Sunday morning politics recap “This Week With George Stephanopoulos. If he were to land the gig, there would be some logistics involved since “GMA” tapes in New York City while the “Jeopardy!” studio is located in Culver City, California. “Jeopardy!” is currently the third highest-rated syndicated series on TV, behind only “Judge Judy” and “Family Feud.” That positioning makes it the second highest-rated syndicated game show of the 2020-21 television season. With perennial ratings champion “Judge Judy” ending at the conclusion of this season, that vacancy will open the door for game shows to rule syndication.  


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