“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.
Richards previously hosted the series “Divided” and “The Pyramid” for Sony Pictures’ GSN cabler.
Earlier in his career, Richards served as host of reality shows “High School Reunion” on The WB network and “Beauty and the Geek” for The CW. He joined “The Price Is Right” in 2008 as a co-executive producer. The following year he became executive producer and also helped sell the revival of “Let’s Make a Deal” to CBS, which he also executive produced. By the time he took the reins of “Jeopardy,” Richards had produced more than 4,000 hours of game shows.
Richards came to Sony as executive producer of the celebrity edition of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” specials for ABC.
Other guest hosts that have fronted the show since the final Trebek episodes aired in January include Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Ken Jennings, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Rodgers and former contestant Buzzy Cohen.
Former contestant Jennings was long seen as the front-runner to succeed Trebek. Jennings holds the record for the most consecutive “Jeopardy” wins with his 74-game streak from 2004. He also ranks as the show’s highest-grossing winner with $2.52 million in regular-play winnings (which doesn’t include later tournaments).
“Jeopardy!” is one of the few remaining powerhouse syndicated series that ranks as television institution, in large part thanks to the enduring popularity of Trebek. The competition to replace Trebek was fierce. It’s understood that Bialik and Cohen were among the standouts who have also been strongly considered for the permanent job.