Sony Hack Reveals Alex Trebek Threatened To Quit Jeopardy! Over Child Contestant Meltdown
In an email thread, Trebek was asked to re-tape a segment of Jeopardy! because of a child contestant’s meltdown to “appease an upset moter who could start another feeding frenzy about Alex’s perceived insensitivity.” The little girl had a negative balance by the end of the third round and was unable to participate in the Final Jeopardy. A producer wrote in the email thread that the contestant was “visibly upset and ran backstage crying with her mother.” The producer and the child’s mother eventually calmed her down and she returned on the set to watch another episode from the audience.
After the incident occurred, the mother wrote to the producers to share her surprise that Trebek didn’t help console her daughter.
“If he had taken the time, he would have known, like you do, that my daughter is not a sore loser, and does not become emotional solely over losing a game. She was upset about not being able to completely play the game to the end,” she wrote. The mother signed off her letter by revealing she will never forgive Trebek for his behavior.
Although it seemed like a simple request, Trebek responded to the producers with a rant:
“If you all think I should retape the opening, I will. But I want to say that for 30 years I’ve defended our show against attacks inside and out. But it doesn’t seem to operate both ways. When I’m vilified, corporate (and certainly legal) always seems to say ‘don’t say anything and it’ll blow over,’ and I’m not feeling support from the producers, and that disappoints the s—t out of me. If I’m making mistakes and saying things you don’t like, maybe it’s time for me to move on. It’s not a threat, but I want to let you know how I’m feeling.”
Jeopardy! executive producer Harry Friedman wrote in an email that the 74-year-old host eventually calmed down. Which is good news for Sony Pictures Television; Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy since 1984 and an early exit would have cost Sony a pretty penny.