OK, so you’re the suits at Sony Pictures Television, owner of Jeopardy!, syndicated goldmine generating maybe $100 million in profit EVERY YEAR and viewed by some 70 million knowledge-nuts EVERY WEEK. (By comparison, broadcast TV’s highest rated drama, NCIS, averages about 12 million viewers weekly.) Then your main guy gets sick – soldiering on courageously as host – and dies. So, getting it spot on with his replacement couldn’t have any higher priority, right? What could mean more to a legendary TV show’s owner than viewers and profit?
After a season featuring a clown car full of guest hosts, in which millions of fans offered their critiques of each one (sorry, Dr. Oz, you were without question the worst clown; Katie, you still got the gams), it’s time to pick a new host. So what do you suits do? You name a virtually anonymous sexist, anti-Semitic Hollywood “bro” to take the podium occupied with dignity and decorum by Alex Trebek for nearly four decades. Then fire him in a New York minute. Now what? Well, one inexplicable decision deserves another.….
August 26, 2021
By Andrew Squibley and Arthur Bushwhacker, Biked Tandem to Sturgis for the Music, Stayed for the Virus
“Democracy Dies In Darkness…And In Afghanistan? What Were We Thinking?”
MAR-A-LAGO, Fla. (Rueters) — Former President Donald Trump, impeached as many times as Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton combined, is negotiating a comeback to reality television by becoming host of the country’s most popular syndicated game show, Jeopardy!, Hollywood insiders have told Rueters exclusively.
Trump, whose catch phrase “You’re Fired!” made him a household name on the reality show “The Apprentice” between 2004 and 2015, was said to be “deeply interested” in replacing the beloved Alex Trebek, host from 1984 until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2020, according to a source familiar with the discussions. “But, naturally, he’s got his own fucked-up ideas about how the show should look like with him in charge. This won’t be business as usual.”
Jeopardy!, which recently completed its latest season with 15 guest hosts, has stumbled badly in naming a full-time replacement for the legendary Trebek. Owner Sony Pictures Television reversed its decision to designate as permanent host little-known Mike Richards, the program’s executive producer, in light of racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and other offensive comments made by him during his podcast, “The Randumb Show,” between 2013 and 2014.
The recordings, unearthed by Claire McNear of online news publisher The Ringer, came to light after Richards was named — amid much corporate fanfare — to take Trebek’s crown, with a multi-million dollar salary to boot. He kept his new job for less than two days, taping but five episodes of the show before his plug was pulled.
Unapologetic about any of his past comments and behavior, Richards tried to make his dismissal from the coveted role of host of television’s most popular game show sound like his own noble act: “It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter.” Then Richards announced he was resigning “effective immediately.”
For its part, Sony said in a statement, “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past,” adding it wished it had gone to Indeed.com for candidates.
The Orange Menace, meanwhile, facing mounting legal bills defending against multiple lawsuits and charges of tax fraud and corruption against his company, The Trump Organization, is said to be looking for a big payday, the kind no publisher in its right mind would give him for his presidential memoirs.
“With no book deal in sight — and hell, the guy doesn’t read anyway, who thinks he can write? — the only place he can hope to make millions is television,” a Sony source told Rueters. “He cashed in with “The Apprentice” to the tune of $400 million as host of the show. That’s just about enough to pay what he owes Deutsche Bank for all those dodgy loans, right?”
Trump has spent the months following his loss in the 2020 presidential contest to President Joe Biden complaining baselessly about a “stolen election” and playing the role of political pope, bestowing blessings and endorsements on generally obsequious, unqualified candidates for the US Congress. Herschel Walker, former Georgia Bulldogs and Dallas Cowboys standout, now Republican candidate for the US Senate from Georgia, comes to mind.
Rueters recently learned Sony officials have quietly told general managers at stations throughout the US who currently broadcast Jeopardy! they have decided against having another collection of largely disappointing celebrities host the program as they did this year. Instead, the officials told station managers, they would move as quickly as they could to find a permanent replacement.
“Trump seemed the obvious choice,” one game-show insider told Rueters. “He’s a household name, he’s got the time, he needs the money and, we think, he can get us to an audience we currently don’t reach — the generally uninformed.”
Trump has told Sony executives he wants complete creative control over the program, including approving all categories, questions and answers, competitors (favoring MAGA supporters), and prize money. According to inside sources, No. 45 apparently liked the practice Sony instituted to attract guest hosts — matching the combined winnings from each show and donating the total to the hosts’ favored charities.
Nearly $3 million was donated by Sony from the shows featuring guest hosts, the show’s final host, sportscaster Joe Buck, announced on air. Trump has told Sony he expects the company to continue the same practice during his tenure, with the match of daily winnings going to the Trump Foundation 2.0 which has replaced the old foundation, shuttered by New York State officials for tax fraud and misappropriation of funds. Rueters was told by an inside source the company is likely to agree to Trump’s monetary demand.
Some of Trump’s desired changes to the show’s format “may be playing with fire,” Rueters heard from a long time Jeopardy! assistant producer.
The Orange Menace “gets confused with the answer-then-question format,” the assistant producer said. “He can’t keep it straight whenever he plays along. So he wants to change it to a straight Q and A format. Ask the question, then answer it. No more what he calls ‘the bullshit’ of having to answer in the form of a question.”
The variety and obscurity — in Trump’s view — of categories will likely be pulled way back to simpler themes that his political supporters, those he wants as contestants, will recognize. “No Shakespeare, no opera, no European art — none of the stuff he doesn’t know, understand or care about will be appear on a Donald Trump episode of Jeopardy!” the program source said. “You can expect to see categories like walls, immigrants, fast food, and election fraud.”
Questions (asked first) and answers will be simplified, under Trump’s oversight. “Take, for example, ‘Who did more for the Blacks in America than any president, except possibly for Abraham Lincoln?’ Or, this: ‘Who said, ‘I alone can fix it’? You get the general idea. It’s a MAGA dream come true.”
But will America — specifically the tens of millions of Trebek fans — go along with a Trump-hosted Jeopardy!? It may be too soon to tell, but if the recent past is nearly prologue, Sony may soon have another disaster on its hands.