Following reports that Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards was in negotiations to become the successor to the late Alex Trebek as the show’s permanent host, the news has officially been confirmed.
As per the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, Richards has signed on to be the permanent host of the popular quiz show, following multiple months of on-air auditions that included fan favorites like LeVar Burton and Aaron Rodgers. Richards has served as an executive producer on the show since 2020, a role which he will continue even as he takes on hosting duties. He will also remain an EP on Wheel of Fortune.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude,” Richards said in a statement. “I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show. I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love.”
While The Daily Beast has reported that Richards will split hosting duties with The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, that’s only partly true. The actress, who first rose to prominence in Blossom, has been tapped to host multiple Jeopardy! ABC primetime specials and a possible future spinoff series. Like Richards and Burton, she was one the guest hosts for the quiz show after the final episodes Trebek taped before his death in November 2020 at age 80 aired. Bialik will first appear in her new hosting role for the Jeopardy! National College Championship tournament on ABC next year.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” Bialik said in a statement “What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life!”
When it was first reported that Richards was in advanced negotiations to become the new permanent host, fans expressed their disappointment that Burton wasn’t in the running. Burton, for what it’s worth, said in a New York Times Magazine interview in June that he felt like he’s “supposed” to take on the role. “I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant,” he said.
Richards also faced criticism after the reports first surfaced, with some highlighting past discrimination lawsuits that came up during his time as a producer for The Price Is Right. The two lawsuits, which are from over a decade ago, were brought up in response to the reports, and Richards even responded to the controversy.
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price Is Right ten years ago,” Richards wrote in a response. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price Is Right. I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”