He is the Jeopardy! executive producer that will replace Alex Trebek as the new permanent host of the popular quiz show. The answer, who is Mike Richards? After months of guest hosts and recent reports of negotiations, Sony Pictures Entertainment has officially named Mike Richards as the new full-time host of Jeopardy! In a bit of a (pleasant) surprise, Mayim Bialik was also announced as the Jeopardy! host for primetime specials and spinoff series.
Jeopardy! has become a staple of the TV landscape, thanks in large part to the late Alex Trebek, who hosted the show for 37 years. Trebek passed away in November 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Since the airing of Trebek’s final show, Jeopardy! has been using a rotating roster of guest hosts, including Richards, Bialik, Levar Burton, Aaron Rodgers, Anderson Cooper and Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings, among others.
After the months-long quasi-auditions, which are slated to end Aug. 13 with broadcaster Joe Buck, Sony Pictures Entertainment revealed that Richards will begin hosting the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! at the start of season 38.
“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s favorite quiz show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of Jeopardy!,” said Ravi Ahuja, chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures. “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show — deservedly so because it’s Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers.”
Richards has served as an executive producer on Jeopardy! since 2019, and has past experience as a producer on The Price Is Right and Let’s Make a Deal, as well as hosting experience on Beauty and the Geek and 2012’s revival of The Pyramid.
The Richards hiring does not come without controversy. After news leaked that he was the favorite for the Jeopardy! hosting gig, Variety reported that Richards had previously been cited as a defendant in multiple 2010 pregnancy discrimination lawsuits during his time at The Price Is Right against models/presenters on the show. While one of the cases ruled in favor of the plaintiff, an appeal overruled the decision and eventually both lawsuits reached settlements.
“These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” Richards wrote in a statement regarding the lawsuits. “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.”
In Sony Picture Entertainment’s official announcement, Richards said that “deeply honored” to be tapped as the new Jeopardy! host.
Bialik, meanwhile, earned rave reviews during her guest hosting stint. Bialik is best known for her role in The Big Bang Theory, as well as her current Fox sitcom Call Me Kat. Bialik is also a literal neurobiologist. Jeopardy! has already announced the first spinoff special where we will see her as host — the Jeopardy! National College Championship, a new tournament which will air in primetime on ABC in 2022 and will feature 15 colleges from across the U.S. competing in a two-week tournament.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” Bialik said. “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!”
Production on season 38 of Jeopardy! is expected to begin in mid-August, with the first episode with Mike Richards as the new host airing on Sept. 13.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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