“Wheel of Fortune” has become a staple of multiple generations. It’s clean, entertaining, and people enjoy solving the puzzles alongside contestants.
The show has a very predictable structure and two very familiar faces, and has maintained that familiarity episode after episode, year after year. And now, after 37 years, they’re mixing things up a bit.
For the first time, Vanna White played host on three weeks’ worth of shows. She’s often seen but not heard in her typical role, but stepping into Sajak’s shoes was nerve-wracking and necessary, coming as a surprise to just about everyone.
“We were supposed to be filming at noon and at 10 a.m. the executive producer [Harry Friedman] said, ‘How do you feel about hosting the show?'” White told the New York Post. “We didn’t actually shoot that day; Harry cancelled the tapings because we were all so concerned about Pat. That was the most important thing. We wanted him to get through his surgery and know he was OK.”
When White was asked to fill in for Pat, she thought the producer was kidding. “When I realized Harry was serious I thought, ‘You know what? The show must go on. I’m going to be a part of this and keep it going and will take Pat’s place until he comes back. He would probably do the same for me and I felt it was important for our fans to continue on with the show.”
Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel! I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/4Jsz3UePFp
— Vanna White (@TheVannaWhite) December 9, 2019
She said her greatest concern was the happiness of the contestants, as she hoped they wouldn’t feel that her being host would negatively affect their experience.
She had to dress a little differently for the role, too — floor-length gowns weren’t going to cut it when she had to cover uneven surfaces — and opted for cocktail dresses instead.
Sajak warned Wheel of Fortune fans before the switch happened.
“It’s a bit confusing, but here’s the deal: Vanna will be hosting this coming week and the next,” Sajak tweeted on Saturday. “Then two weeks of shows I taped before my surgery. Then Vanna again the week of Jan. 6 with a special guest at the puzzle board. Then the planets will realign, and it’s back to normal.”
On Monday, the first of White’s hosted shows aired, and she tweeted about her nerves.
“Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel! I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned!”
Fans had mixed responses to the swap. Many were complimentary of the gorgeous hostess’ new, temporary role.
“Congratulations on your first night of hosting!” wrote one person. “I was on the show in 1990 & got to speak with you briefly as I won $25,000 in the bonus round by guessing ‘biscuits & honey.’ My 4 year old was in the audience & he is now 34! I was visiting from Ajax, Ontario. IT IS YOUR TIME!!!”
“Let’s be honest, @TheVannaWhite hosting for the first time in 37 years on #WheelOfFortune must be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” wrote another. “And yes, it’s different, but great job on stepping in, on such short notice. Glad I got to see you host @WheelofFortune.”
For the first time in show history, @TheVannaWhite steps in as host at the Wheel, while our friend Minnie Mouse helps out at the puzzleboard! You won’t want to miss this week, as the Secret Santa Holiday Giveaway has officially begun! #WheelOfFortune pic.twitter.com/a8VEeBja4R
— Wheel of Fortune (@WheelofFortune) December 10, 2019
Others were less congratulatory, pointing out White’s nervousness (which she’d already admitted) and her awkwardness.
“I’m awkward, but not Vanna White hosting Wheel of Fortune, awkward,” tweeted one viewer.
“Vanna White is hosting Wheel of Fortune this week and I am legitimately so uncomfortable,” tweeted another. “She’s so awkward as a host.”
It’s a bit confusing, but here’s the deal: Vanna will be hosting this coming week and the next. Then two weeks of shows I taped before my surgery. Then Vanna again the week of Jan. 6 with a special guest at the puzzle board. Then the planets will realign, and it’s back to normal.
— Pat Sajak (@patsajak) December 7, 2019
Regardless of the mixed reviews, Sajak is back in filming and will once again appear in his rightful position on the show.
“Even though the shows I missed haven’t started airing (they begin next week), I’m happy to say that I’m back in the studio taping today,” he tweeted on Thursday. “It’s been four weeks since my ‘episode,’ but it feels longer. Nice to be back.”
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