Former Jeopardy! winner Arthur Chu has claimed that the show’s producers have not been “respectful” of Alex Trebek’s views on who should succeed him as the long-running US game show’s host.
Trebek, who presented Jeopardy! from 1984 until 2020, died from pancreatic cancer in November 2020. A string of celebrity guest hosts have since fronted the show, with duties currently shared between Mayim Bialik and the series’ all-time champion Ken Jennings.
Bialik, formerly of The Big Bang Theory, has replaced Mike Richards on the show – who himself stepped down from hosting and executive producing after controversial comments from his past came to the surface.
Speaking to Newsweek yesterday (October 19), Chu said: “I was rooting for Ken Jennings as host out of solidarity as a fellow former contestant, and because it really seems like he was Alex Trebek’s choice for a successor, hence Trebek giving him his cufflinks and having him narrate his audiobook.
“But ultimately most of what anyone would need to know to have an informed opinion is stuff that we’ll never find out about without someone leaking it from behind the scenes.
“I don’t have strong opinions on it other than that I think there’s some clear signs Alex Trebek’s preferred successor was Ken Jennings and it would have been more respectful to abide by his wishes,” he added.
Chu also said that he found “many of the comments Bialik has made about important issues in the past to be unfortunate,” and that he “strongly disagree[d] with her past expressed opinions on issues like #MeToo and vaccinations” as well.
Bialik made comments in 2009 that she and her family were “non-vaccinating”, though she has since indicated that she would receive both flu and coronavirus vaccinations, and that her children had been given all their required vaccines.
Chu continued: “That said, while [Bialik] hasn’t given the apology I wish she would have upon being named to this position, she hasn’t continued to push any of these ideas as host, and sometimes you have to reluctantly accept that all the famous people you enjoy seeing onscreen have something problematic from their past.”
British comedian and US talk show host John Oliver also criticised Bialik’s appointment last month (September 28), sarcastically referring to her as “a person I think is great because I don’t have Google.”