Vanna White Only Had Half an Hour to Prep for Her Wheel of Fortune Hosting Gig
When it was announced that Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak would have to undergo emergency surgery, it didn't take producers long to ask Vanna White to step into his role. Even though she's been on the show for 37 years, White told Vulture that she panicked at the thought, but, like a true superstar, realized that she had to do it so that filming could continue. She explained that she had absolutely zero time to practice or rehearse before she stepped out on stage — but she managed to handle everything like the pro she is.
"P-A-N-I-C. Panic is the word that comes to mind!" White said. "Our executive producer came up to me and said, 'Hey, Pat has to go into emergency surgery right now. How would you feel about hosting the show?' Panic set in at that moment, but I made a quick decision and realized the show must go on. I felt like I had to do it, and I did. I did have a choice, but I didn't. I had no practice whatsoever. It was just before it."
White's first show aired on Monday night and the episodes will continue to air through the end of the year. She also told Vulture that even though she was accustomed to being on set, the dynamic was totally different when she hosted, since she was interacting with the contestants and, of course, the big wheel. Initial reports stated that White would only be filling in for Sajak for one show, but she told the New York Times that she'd be hosting for three weeks. In her stead, Minnie Mouse was handling the letter board.
"It was a huge shift because all of a sudden all the attention was on me," she added. "I had to carry the show and make sure the contestants were well taken care of. I had to be present for every second, every spin, every letter called, every prize on the wheel. It was like being on a ball team. All my life I've played first base, and now I had to step in and play second base. It's out of your comfort zone when you're not familiar with it."
Sajak is "resting comfortably" and expected to make a full recovery.