Bummed that Succession is over? Well, the Roy’s family drama may have wrapped, but a whole new succession drama may be playing out over at Sony Pictures Television, where one question is on producers minds: who is going to replace Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune? According to Puck News, Ryan Seacrest and Sherri Shepherd are among the frontrunners, but Sony is dividing into “friendly factions” over who will win the coveted role.
Sajak — who’s been hosting the game show since 1981 — announced his retirement last week, and has signaled that he would prefer to get a successor lined-up as soon as possible, hoping to avoid a Jeopardy-style debacle. In light of this, Seacrest — who recently stepped away from his hosting duties on Kelly Ripa’s Live! — has become a clear frontrunner. His decades of hosting experience certainly make him qualified, and, according to Puck, his team has been in talks with the Wheel producers.
Yet, others at Sony want to use the opportunity of Sajak’s retirement to rebrand and refresh the show, which has remained in a relatively constant format since it first debuted in 1975. According to Puck, another frontrunner for the position is Shepherd, who could bring a fun new vibe to the program, and reflect the show’s diverse viewership. She, of course, has plenty of hosting experience as well.
Others are vying for the position as well, but no word on any official decision has arrived. All the jockeying makes sense though — while, to some, Wheel might be an afterthought so far as cultural impact goes, it’s still one of the highest-grossing shows on television. Weekly, it continues to garners around 7.7 million viewers, and, from syndication, earns around $70 million annually. From licensing the rights to Wheel-branded slot machines alone, Sony is expected to earn $220 million over the next decade.
It’s a pretty great gig for the host too — apparently, Sajak and his co-host, Vanna White, only have to be on set for four days a month. For this, Sajak’s been making around $15 million a year. White’s made less, but has certainly earned herself — and her superb gesturing skills — a place in the American pop culture lexicon. After Sajak says goodbye in 2024, White will continue on as the face of Wheel for an online casino created by BetMGM.