Do You Remember Pat Sajak’s Short-Lived Late-Night Show?

THE PAT SAJAK SHOW, Pat Sajak, 1989-90,
CBS/courtesy Everett Collection

Pat Sajak is known for hosting the game show The Wheel of Fortune for many years, but do you remember his short-lived late-night talk show? It was 1989 and late-night shows were all the rage. CBS wanted to put their hat back in the ring since their latest late-night show had ended more than a decade prior with The Merv Griffin Show. The network wanted a new show that could compete with other networks since their late-night ratings had been pretty low for a while.

CBS Vice-President of Daytime, Children’s, and Late-Night Programming at the time, Michael Brockman had known Sajak for a while and saw how well-received he was on both the daytime and syndicated nighttime versions of Wheel of Fortune. CBS created a brand-new $4 million sound stage for the new Pat Sajak Show. Dan Miller, a friend and former colleague of Sajak’s became the show’s announcer and classic sidekick.

The Pat Sajak Show Candice Bergen, host Pat Sajak, 1989-1990

CBS/Everett Collection

Unfortunately for Sajak, Arsenio Hall soon came around. Despite strong ratings at first, fans quickly dropped off from watching Sajak’s show and favored The Arsenio Hall Show. Just a few months after The Pat Sajak Show began, his ratings were trailing every other late-night talk show out there including Late Night with David Letterman and Nightline. Critics began slamming the show and by February 1990, big changes were made in hopes of saving it. They got rid of Sajak’s opening monologue and added a guest host on Fridays. They also changed up the setting of the show from a traditional desk and chairs to more of a round table discussion.

The Pat Sajak Show Dan Miller, Chevy Chase, Joan Van Ark, host Pat Sajak, 1989-1990

CBS/Everett Collection

On March 30, 1990, Rush Limbaugh was the guest host and tried to sway the audience on abortion rights and even began arguing with pro-choice advocates. It wasn’t a good look for the show and despite changes, ratings continued to drop. By April 1990, the show was canceled and Sajak himself didn’t even host the final episode. He was off on a pre-planned trip to Europe when CBS canceled the show and comedian Paul Rodrigeuz stepped in for its final episode. Despite how badly the show went overall, Sajak has admitted that he doesn’t regret doing it.

Tell us, did you ever watch The Pat Sajak Show? What did you think of it?

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