Televison's most enduring quiz show might be, er, in jeopardy.
A source tells OK! that the scramble to find Jeopardy!’s replacement host following the November passing of beloved frontman Alex Trebek has thrown the long-running program into major behind-the-scenes turmoil.
The show’s first pick, executive producer Mike Richards, resigned before his tenure even began — but after he’d already filmed several new episodes — when offensive comments he made in the past resurfaced.
Following Richards' shocking Aug. 20 resignation, “plans for an orderly transition went out the window,” says a source, adding that fans are “critical of Mayim [Bialik] too.” (Producers temporarily filled Richards' spot with the Big Bang Theory star, who is scheduled to tape three weeks' worth of programs, with additional guest hosts being announced in the near future.)
Bialik — who appeared in a rotation of celebrity guest hosts, which included Katie Couric, LeVar Burton and Anderson Cooper — has seen her own past polarizing comments about vaccines and Harvey Weinstein’s victims came under fire, leaving the show steeped in controversy.
“This has been a total nightmare for the rest of the producers,” says the source. “This is really not the look Jeopardy! was going for, and Alex, if he’s looking down, would be shocked.”
Meanwhile, the program’s current top choices for host “are busy doing other things,” adds the source. “They’d love to have Katie, Anderson or even Aaron Rodgers, but there’s little chance of getting them now.”
As OK! previously reported, Rodgers "was hopping mad" after Richards initially scored the coveted gig following the NFL player's 2-week stint as guest host. "He was told all along that he had a real chance, but now it’s apparent they were never going to hire him,” a source told OK!, noting the athlete “can’t help but feel the game was rigged."
With Jeopardy!’s fate uncertain, on-set tensions remain high among longtime staffers who “take the show and Alex’s legacy very seriously,” says the source. “There’s anger that it’s been tarnished this way.”
The hope is that the studio will “take charge and guide Jeopardy! in the right direction,” adds the source, “because the fear is that it may not continue at all if they don’t.”