There aren’t a whole lot of people who can say they’ve been at their job for over four decades — especially in Hollywood — but Pat Sajak is one of those lucky few. That’s why no matter how qualified Ryan Seacrest may be to take over as Wheel of Fortune’s host next year, many people are nervous about what will become of the show when Sajak retires. I myself am a little worried about how the hosting change will affect the overall tone of the show, but after hearing Seacrest speak about his upcoming role, I think his confidence is a good sign.
Ryan Seacrest spoke on Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, about his new gig as host of Wheel of Fortune, which he’ll start at the end of the current season with his debut coming in September 2024. It’s not lost on the American Idol host how legendary Pat Sajak is in the game show world — and in entertainment overall — and as a fan himself, Seacrest seems to understand the assignment when it comes to filling those big shoes. He said:
Pat Sajak is an icon in this business, and he’s made it so comfortable for everybody to watch it. I’m like a kid, so excited about just seeing the set.
Ryan Seacrest clearly has respect for the game, and when he mentions talking about the iconic set, there’s a reverence in his words. As far as how the game will change when he takes over, it sounds like longtime viewers don’t have anything to worry about, as he assured Willie Geist:
My version will be the version that is. The game works. All you want to do is walk in and say, ‘Good evening, grab your devices, and here’s the first puzzle.'
This may come as a relief to Wheel of Fortune fans who have seen how zany the host could get on Live with Kelly and Ryan, and I have to say I’m more optimistic now that he’ll follow Pat Sajak in making the show about the contestants and the game, rather than about himself. Certainly there won’t be any Seacrest-falling-out-of-his-chair moments on this show!
Even so, change isn’t easy, and although Pat Sajak is still the host on the new episodes airing currently in syndication, fans have already started sharing their opinions on the impending change, and they’re not holding back about Ryan Seacrest taking over. While some are looking forward to seeing what the new host will bring to the show, others have said they don’t plan on watching, and some even think it will tank without the face of its franchise.
The game show may be losing its longtime host, but one thing that won’t change is Vanna White standing in front of the big board. The co-host finally landed a new contract with Wheel of Fortune and Sony Television — albeit for just two years — ensuring that she’ll be there to help Ryan Seacrest get his bearings.
Ryan Seacrest told Willie Geist he was happy that a deal had been reached, noting that Vanna White also has been a “staple” of the show for more than 40 years. Knowing this and hearing that Seacrest will aim to make the viewing experience as “comfortable” for the audience as Pat Sajak has all of these years makes me feel better about what’s to come for Wheel of Fortune. In the meantime, though, it’s still Sajak’s show, so check your local listings to catch his final season.