Production has already begun on Pat Sajak’s final episodes of Wheel of Fortune, but if anyone thought that already naming Ryan Seacrest as his eventual replacement would make the swan song season immune to drama, think again. Vanna White remains tied up in contract negotiations, with her salary reportedly the big sticking point. So where do things stand between White and producers, and why haven’t the two sides been able to find common ground yet?
It was reported earlier this summer that Vanna White had lawyered up in order to renegotiate her contract to include her first traditional pay raise in 18 years. Wheel of Fortune pushed back on this, which the co-host of 41 years reportedly saw as a sign of disrespect. According to a new report, the powers that be have doubled down on wanting White to return to show for Ryan Seacrest’s transition, but they’re also allegedly looking further into the future with her negotiations. An insider told the Daily Mail:
Wheel wants to make the transition between Pat and Ryan seamless and having Vanna there would be wonderful to make that all happen. They want her next contract though to be her last contract so there is a little more maneuverability to change things up in a few years when they look for her replacement.
Vanna White and Wheel of Fortune clearly both have objectives in these deals, with the co-host wanting to get compensated fairly and the show wanting to set itself up for when she will inevitably be replaced. The source continued:
Vanna is actually OK with that, she just wants a tremendous payday that the show isn't ready to even consider at this time. It is a matter of who is going to budge first, but they both aren't blinking yet. Vanna wants to go out on her terms and retire when she is ready with a nice paycheck to end it all.
After 41 years, Vanna White’s terms don’t seem to be outlandish. It was reported that she was asking to bump up the $3 million she currently makes to $7.5 million. With Pat Sajak reportedly taking home $15 million, that moves her from one-fifth of the host’s pay up to half (though some sources have alleged she’s asking for even more than that). However, insiders have consistently claimed the show is not on the same page regarding the amount of money she wants, so with neither side backing down, how long will these negotiations last?
The good news is that it sounds like both sides want to resolve the issue sooner rather than later, as to not have the contract disputes hanging over everyone’s head for the entirety of Pat Sajak’s farewell tour. The source said:
Vanna and the producers are currently on a similar page and want to get a deal done but they both have a few hiccups to still clear through. They both know they have a lot of time to do it and more discussions to be had but everyone wants something achieved and wouldn't want Pat's last year hampered by the constant news of the revolving contract dispute drama. They want to celebrate this year with little to no drama whatsoever.
Little-to-no drama sounds pretty good, but who will be the one to compromise to get it done? Wheel of Fortune’s 41st season is set to premiere in September with Pat Sajak leading the way. Ryan Seacrest will take over hosting duties for Season 42 in 2024.