Pat Sajak will come out of short-lived retirement for 'Celebrity Wheel of Fortune'

Pat Sajak is taking the wheel again, briefly stepping out of his short-lived retirement to helm the fifth season of ABC’s “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”

The network on Wednesday confirmed the veteran game show host’s latestgig in announcing its fall premiere lineup, which also includes the return of the beloved sitcom “Abbott Elementary,” stalwart “Monday Night Football” and the debut of “The Golden Bachelorette.”

The three-time Daytime Emmy Award winner, who concluded his 41-year hosting stint with a final “Wheel of Fortune” episode that aired in early June, will return to the ABC airwaves on Oct. 7 for the Season 5 premiere of the prime-time version of the puzzle series. The network has billed it as his “final spin hosting ‘Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.’” The “Celebrity” hosting job, which is separate from Sajak’s long-running duties on the original syndicated series, is one that he has performed dozens of times.

Sajak’s premiere episode has not yet been taped, The Times has confirmed, but he is set to host the series for the entirety of the season. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” will air on Mondays when ABC doesn’t have a “Monday Night Football” game scheduled. The series will also serve as a lead-in to the Elizabeth Banks-hosted game show “Press Your Luck.”

In June 2023, the host announced his retirement from the iconic game show with little detail about the reason. . Then, in the lead-up to his final episode this summer, he revealed that he felt he needed to exit on his own terms.

“I’d rather leave a couple years too early than a couple years too late,” he said in an interview with his daughter, adding, “I’m looking forward to whatever’s ahead.”

“Whatever” seems to be the star-studded, prime-time edition of the game, which pits celebrity contestants against one another to benefit their choice of charities. The series premiered in 2021 and Sajak usually served as host.

A spokesperson for Sajak on Thursday told The Times that the host is “enjoying his retirement” and “passing on all requests” for comment.

Sajak’s longtime “Wheel of Fortune” post will be filled by mega-producer Ryan Seacrest, who takes the wheel in September after signing a multiyear deal with Sony Pictures Television in June 2023. On Tuesday, the show’s famed letter-turner Vanna White, who is set to remain on “Wheel of Fortune” for the next two years, shared a photo with her and the “American Idol” and “On Air” host bonding over chicken and dumplings. “Friends on and off camera,” she wrote.

Sajak stepped in for original host Chuck Woolery after the Hangman-style show’s seventh season in 1982, when “America’s Game” still aired on daytime television. Legendary producer Merv Griffin hired Sajak and White, cementing their status as series fixtures for decades. In 2019, Sajak scored the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest career as a host on the same game show. He retired with almost 8,000 episodes to his name.

“It’s been an incredible privilege to be invited into millions of homes, night after night, year after year, decade after decade,” Sajak said in his farewell episode. “And I’ve always felt that the privilege came with the responsibility to keep this daily half-hour a safe place for family fun. No social issues, no politics. Nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game.”

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