‘Jeopardy!’ selects its own EP to replace Trebek on syndicated version, another star to host specials
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Mike Richards, whose name emerged earlier this month as a top contender, and who is also executive producer of the show and “Wheel of Fortune,” has been named Trebek’s replacement on the syndicated version that’s currently aired on stations.
Meanwhile, former “Blossom” and “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik has signed a contract to host special primetime editions of the show that will air on ABC beginning in the fall of 2021.
The first of these will be a standalone college championship.
“Jeopardy!” previously partnered with ABC on its “Greatest of All Time” tournament, which Trebek hosted. “Wheel,” meanwhile, has a deal with the network for primetime “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” editions.
The decision to hire Richards as Trebek’s replacement on the syndicated version was met with mixed reviews.
Many fans are disappointed since Richards wasn’t viewed as one of the more memorable people to try out for the role as the show rotated through a series of guest hosts follow Trebek’s death and when pre-taped episodes featuring him ran out.
Others have noted the “nepotism” of hiring the same person who just happened to the show’s executive producer, though Richards insisted multiple times during the process that the decision would ultimately be up to Sony Pictures Television executives.
Fan favorites among the cast of guest hosts include former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton, Bialik and others (though opinions vary greatly).
Former contestant Ken Jennings was widely considered a frontrunner for the job — he guest hosted as well — given that he has a consulting producer role on the show and is familiar with fans and the format. Fellow former champ Buzzy Cohen was also mentioned.
Ultimately, sources said that Richards was in advanced negotiations to take over the show, but those reports notably left out any direct reference to Bialik’s role on primetime editions, though the show did confirm it was still negotiating with other talent.
Bialik is also currently starring in the Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat,” which could have limited her availability — which is why having her host specials is more logical, since these can be scheduled around production of the sitcom.
“Jeopardy!” had indicated it wanted someone who could commit full time to the host role, though Richards arguably doesn’t meet that since he has production duties on both the quiz show and “Wheel.”
“Jeopardy!” typically tapes two days a week, five episodes a day, so it quickly gets episodes in the can well ahead of schedule.
Taping for the Richards episodes begins later in August 2021 with a Sept. 13, 2021, debut for Season 37 set.