Variety: “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards is in advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television to become permanent host of the venerable quiz show, taking the reins of the syndicated powerhouse that was fronted by Alex Trebek for 36 years.
After Trebek’s death at the age of 80 in November 2020, Sony initiated a series of guest hosts, some of whom were hoping to land the permanent slot. Richards, who joined the show just last year as executive producer, impressed Sony Pictures brass with his command of the fast-paced game and easy on-air manner.
A Sony Pictures spokesman said discussions were ongoing with several potential candidates. He would not comment specifically on Richards’ status. A source close to the situation cautioned that there’s no certainty that the sides will close a deal and that other candidates remain in the mix, although Richards is clearly the front-runner.
Nothing is official yet, but it seems like Jeopardy executive producer Mike Richards might be close to getting the nod as the permanent host after months and months of rotating guest hosts. Some fans are upset and think he's the boring pick, clamoring for LeVar Burton or Ken Jennings or others, but I actually think Richards is the right choice. He's been my favorite of everyone so far.
To me, Jeopardy should not be about the host. It's about the game itself, the questions, and the players. That's why Alex Trebek was so perfect. He never wanted it to be "The Alex Trebek Show." He was the consummate professional and was consistently that for 36 years, which is why he became such a legend. Now ironically, because he was so good at being the host, he did become famous and Jeopardy became synonymous with Alex Trebek, but that was never his intention. Which is why it worked.
I don't think the next Jeopardy host should be some big star already. There were plenty of different celebrities who got a chance over the past several months, but I don't think any were a great fit. If you bring in a huge name to be next host, the show becomes more about them than the actual game. I want the next host to be someone we hardly even know. Alex Trebek was not a big name when he started hosting at all. He had a good amount of hosting experience, but I wouldn't say he was a "celebrity" when he first started.
Mike Richards fits that mold. He's had some other hosting experiences (Divided, The Pyramid, others) but he was far from famous. Having game show hosting experience is good though. And being that he's also the EP of Jeopardy (albeit only for a year), he obviously has a good understanding of the show too. That came through when he was guest hosting. He controlled the show with a good flow, interacted well with the contestants, didn't make many mistakes, didn't make things awkward with weird interjections, and just overall naturally fit in. He wasn't the most electric personality by any means. Even if you want to say he was boring, I won't fight you to death on that. But I don't need my Jeopardy host to be the most exciting guy in the world.
The other main complaint from fans is they wanted either Ken Jennings or LeVar Burton. I get that with Jennings there's a cool story where the best player becomes the host. It's an easy transition for hardcore Jeopardy fans. He knows the game well and was good in his guest host spots. But there were questions over some of his past tweets, although nothing was too serious. I'm personally not the biggest fan of Jennings. I don't think he has the right amount of charm or likability. But it is an undeniably cool story of the show's #1 ever player becoming the host.
And as for LeVar Burton, I just don't understand the fan obsession with him becoming the next host. Some people are OUTRAGED that it's Richards over Burton. All the quote tweets and replies to that Variety tweet are saying how they want Burton. Look, I get that they wanted him to get a chance and were happy when he did. I'm glad he got a chance as well. But there's people who think he was far and away the best host. That it would be an absolute unfair travesty if he isn't named the permanent host. Well those people just didn't watch him host. They made up their minds that they wanted him to host and nothing could change it. But if you actually watched his episodes, he wasn't very impressive. I think this reply summed up my thoughts the best
Now don't get me wrong, he wasn't horrible. He wasn't the worst. But he certainly wasn't this overwhelming favorite that people are trying to make him out to be. And I think it's ridiculous that the Internet mob is basically trying to bully the show into choosing him as their host.
So all in all, I think Mike Richards checked the most boxes. Now some could argue it's a little unfair that the show's executive producer is making himself the host, but it's not like he's the only one making the decision. There's obviously a lot of people involved in the decision making process, and they (along with myself) were most impressed with him. If it does become official, I think he'll do a fine job. If not, my other top choices aside from those mentioned were Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, and Mayim Bialik.
In the meantime, let's see if Matt can continue his domination tonight.