Hollywood master of ceremonies Ryan Seacrest was named the next host of “Wheel of Fortune” on Tuesday, replacing longtime host Pat Sajak in 2024.
The selection of a star like Mr. Seacrest by Sony Pictures Television, the studio behind the show, is a big bet on “Wheel of Fortune.” The show has demonstrated remarkable durability, even as traditional television declines in the wake of streaming entertainment.
The quick decision by Sony executives, just two weeks after Mr. Sajak announced he would step down next year, also suggests they are hoping to avoid the succession fiasco that plagued their other hit game show, “Jeopardy! ” almost affected.
Mr. Sajak’s longtime “Wheel of Fortune” co-host, Vanna White, is under contract for another year, and is in talks to continue with the show, said a person with knowledge of the talks who asked not to be named. Said on the condition of printing.
,“I am truly grateful to be following in the footsteps of the great Pat Sajak,” Mr. Seacrest said in a statement. “I can’t wait to continue the tradition of driving and working with the great Vanna White “
In replacing Mr. Sajak, Mr. Seacrest will face a test: He will be replacing a host who is virtually synonymous with the show, such as Bob Barker from “The Price Is Right” or Alex Trebek from “Jeopardy!” were with
Mr. Sajak, a former Los Angeles meteorologist, as well as Ms. White, came on “Wheel of Fortune” in the early 1980s and turned the show into a major hit. Within a few years, “Wheel of Fortune” spawned board games, video games, casino slot machines, and eventually, a prime-time spinoff, “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune”.
Although “Wheel of Fortune” hardly holds the same place in American culture that it once had—at its peak in the 1980s, the game show’s nightly audience exceeded 40 million—it remains one of the most popular entertainment programs on television. Is .
In the latest television season, according to Nielsen, “Wheel of Fortune” received an average of 8.6 million viewers a night, surpassing “Jeopardy!” That’s just a little under 9.1 million viewers watching. These audiences are almost as large as those of prime-time TV, except for football games.
Hosting a popular game show that requires little more than a few days a month is one of the most coveted jobs in entertainment. The job adds another notch to Mr. Seacrest’s resume, which includes stints as a daytime talk show host, competition series host, red carpet interviewer, radio host and New Year’s Eve master of ceremonies.
Mr Seacrest left the morning show’s mainstay “Live” this year after a successful six-year run, which he co-hosted with Kelly Ripa. According to Nielsen, he will continue to host ABC’s “American Idol,” which garnered more than six million viewers last television season.
When Mr. Sajak announced on June 12 that he would be leaving the show, many in the entertainment industry thought the search for his replacement could take months. Still, succession speculation began immediately, and many “Wheel of Fortune” fans on social media called for Ms. White to take over as host. puck reported Last week She was in talks for a new “Wheel of Fortune” contract.
Underscoring how much celebrity entertainers love the position, Joy Behar commented on “The View” two weeks ago that her co-host Whoopi Goldberg was interested in hosting “Wheel of Fortune.” .
“I want that job,” Ms. Goldberg replied definitively to the cheers of the studio audience. “I think it would be a lot of fun.”
Following Mr. Trebek’s death in 2020, Sony announced a potential “Jeopardy!” successors, who served as guest hosts for a week or two at a time. In 2021, Sony announced that Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, would return to “Jeopardy!” I will take over the hosting duties.
But within days, reports surfaced that Mr. Richards had made a number of sexist and offensive comments years earlier, and, amid a public outcry, he was forced out of his job – first as host and then as executive producer. In. Show. It took nearly another year for Sony to announce that Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik would star in “Jeopardy!” Will be the permanent host of
During the previous year, “Jeopardy!” The drama was going on. has largely stabilized, and the show has maintained its strong ratings.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Jennings asked on “The View” should replace Mr. Sajak.
“That’s an interesting question,” said Mr. Jennings, “hopefully, ‘Wheel’ has got an envelope somewhere that says, ‘What to do when Pat packs it up.'”