We'll take "End of an Era" for $200, Alex -- Sony Pictures TV is entertaining all manner of names as potential successors to "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.
Deadline.com's Nellie Andreeva has heard that Brian Williams, the anchor of "NBC Nightly News" (and father of Allison "Girls" Williams), is on the list, along with NBC Sports's Dan Patrick, formerly of ESPN's "SportsCenter"; Matt Lauer, who might understandably be looking for greener pastures after the Ann Curry contretemps on "Today"; and silver fox Anderson Cooper of CNN. Andreeva says these four have all had "exploratory conversations" with "Jeopardy!" parent company Sony Pictures TV.
That doesn't mean Trebek is retiring in the short term, mind you. The New York "Post" claimed today that Lauer and Cooper both had inside tracks on the gig -- and it's a covetable one. "Jeopardy!" is the top show on any network in New York households with a 10.0 average household rating (that's higher than CBS's sitcom star "The Big Bang Theory"), which makes it a promotion ratings-wise for any of the candidates except Patrick (he's worked as a Super Bowl and Olympics presenter).
And none of them would have to quit his day job, necessarily. A syndicated game show can tape a season's worth of episodes in just a couple of months, so any of these hosts could add it to his c.v. as a second job. (Meredith Vieira hosted "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" while still working on "The View" and "Today.")
But again, it's all still speculation. Sony won't step up negotiations until Trebek himself makes a move; they'd already told the host that he's welcome to stay as long as he likes. That said, Trebek -- approaching 30 years as the quiz show's host since it relaunched in 1984 -- is 72 years old, and had his second heart attack last year; when his current contract expires in 2016, he'll be 75. Regardless of how Trebek chooses to move on, Sony wants a succession plan in place.
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We'll keep you posted on any developments in the story, but in the meantime, tell us who YOU think should replace Alex Trebek as "Jeopardy!" host -- or do you think he's irreplaceable? Would you keep watching, or turn to the "Saturday Night Live" parodies instead? Should Sony add a few women's names to the mix? Make it a true Daily Double in the comments.
Enjoy the "SNL" version, featuring "Burt Reynolds," right here:
"Jeopardy!" airs weekdays in syndication; check your local listings.