Lots of big names have, temporarily, stepped into Alex Trebek's shoes after the longtime Jeopardy! host died last year. But the permanent host may end up being someone whose name is not—yet—quite as familiar. Mike Richards, an executive producer on the game show since last year and one of the aforementioned guest hosts, is in advanced negotiations for the gig, according to sources who spoke to Variety. Deadline's sources are apparently a bit more sure, with that site reporting an official announcement is expected in the next few days. "This guy might be the perfect pick because he's already got everyone responding 'Who is Mike Richards?'" reads one Twitter reaction to the news. More:
- Background: Richards may be new to Jeopardy!, but he's produced more than 4,000 hours of game shows including The Price Is Right, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and Let's Make a Deal. He's also hosted the game shows Divided and The Pyramid and reality shows including High School Reunion and Beauty and the Geek.
- Host search status: While the sources say other candidates are still possibilities, Richards is reportedly the frontrunner. Sony Pictures execs were reportedly wowed by his command of the game as well as his on-air personality. But some of the guest hosts who've filled in for Trebek since his death have also been considered as permanent host, with actress Mayim Bialik and former contestant Buzzy Cohen said to be at the top of that list.
- The fans: A recent New York Post poll found that 23% of respondents were hoping Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings would take over the role, though Richards took second place with 14% of the vote. But a perusal of Twitter indicates there are a fair number of fans very upset LeVar Burton didn't get the gig. "YALL COULD HAVE A WHOLE ICONIC LEVAR BURTON BUT YOU PICKING CHAD MCWHITERSON FOR... WHAT???" posted author Luvvie Ajayi.
- Fair search? Some fans were also pointing out the questionable fairness of a host search in which the host is chosen by the show's executive producers ... one of whom ends up being chosen as the host.
- Allegations: Some on Twitter were also posting articles about accusations from Price Is Right models of a toxic workplace culture, including harassment and discrimination, with some of the allegations being lobbed against Richards specifically. Read more about it here and here.
- "Underwhelming": At Variety, that's the word TV critic Daniel D'Addario uses to describe the choice of Richards as host. But, he writes, "The key point that the succession of guest hosts made may have been this one: That the identity of the host matters less than we think."
- Not everyone is upset: The majority of the reaction on Twitter also indicates pretty strongly that Richards' selection may not go over well with diehard Jeopardy! fans, but tweets along this line could also be found: "Nobody complained when the behind the scenes drummer of Genesis suddenly became the guy in front, singing his heart out. So, yeah, #Jeopardy."
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