Ken Jennings still looks like the obvious successor to Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy! But a series of off-color tweets caused a stir, and it may have completely derailed his chance to permanently stand behind the lectern. Here’s what happened.
Jennings co-hosts the podcast Omnibus alongside John Roderick. It’s a long-running trivia podcast centered around telling strange but true stories. Roderick went viral in January after a series of tweets detailing why he wouldn’t help his hungry daughter open a can of beans.
What was meant to be a parenting moment went sideways, and Roderick soon wrote a lengthy apology. The discourse over what some called child abuse turned so negative that Roderick even left Twitter. Jennings wrote some tweets in the defense of his friends and co-host.
Cost Him The Show?
The timeline here is very important. Jennings was the very first guest host on Jeopardy!, which was obviously an endorsement. The show had faith that his steady hand could guide the show not just into a guest host era, but even beyond. The “Bean Dad” controversy occurred right around the time that his episodes started airing.
In a new report from The Wall Street Journal, we learned that the Bean Dad tweet completely derailed the original succession plan. Sources said that executives were put off by many old tweets and the ensuing backlash. Jennings was removed from the running, and the proper guest host search began.
Comically, Jennings was removed from the running because of the powers that be wanted to avoid controversy. The ensuing guest host search was nothing but controversy. And now Richards has stepped down (and also lost his producer gig on the show) after old lawsuits and sexist recordings came to light. Jeopardy! now appears to be scrambling.
What Comes Next?
Mayim Bialik is reportedly the top choice for the job, but she’s just too busy to easily commit. It looks like the iconic game show is trying to work within her schedule, but only time will tell if they can work out. She has her own checkered history with some problematic stances, so many fans do not want her to take over either.
The fans want LeVar Burton. They always have, and A-listers like Ryan Reynolds are trumpeting him to take over the job. Considering Burton’s guest host week was forced to go opposite the Olympic Games, it sure doesn’t look like executives at Jeopardy! feel the same. The butterfly effect is a beautiful thing: if Roderick had just opened the beans for his daughter, then Jennings would be months deep into his hosting duties.