In the wake of the death of beloved and longtime host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy chose to cycle through a list of guest hosts before naming the person who will permanently take the place behind the podium. The show has brought in all manner of celebrities over the months since Jeopardy GOAT Ken Jennings started things off, and a determined fan campaign (supported by the man himself) was rewarded with LeVar Burton getting a guest host slot. Now, the show is reportedly closing in on a permanent host who has been around Jeopardy for a long time, and – unfortunately for his fans – not LeVar Burton. Executive producer Mike Richards could be the next permanent host.
If the name "Mike Richards" doesn't ring a bell compared to the likes of LeVar Burton, Katie Couric, and Mayim Bialik, then that's probably because Richards' greatest contributions to Jeopardy over the years have been behind-the-scenes as executive producer. Despite predictions that Ken Jennings was the frontrunner to take Alex Trebek's former spot, and LeVar Burton as a clear fan-favorite, Variety reports that Richards is in advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television, and cites a Sony Pictures spokesman who shared that discussions are ongoing with a number of potential candidates.
It's not a done deal at this point that Mike Richards will be the next permanent host and other candidates are still possibilities to land the high-profile game show job, but there is no word that anybody is higher on the list than Richards. So, while it's not impossible that LeVar Burton is still in the running for the role of permanent host, fans might not want to set their hearts on the Reading Rainbow and Star Trek vet returning as regular host. Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik and former Jeopardy contestant Buzzy Cohen (who guest-hosted in May) are said to have been standout candidates for the hosting job.
And it's worth noting that Mike Richards has plenty of experience in the game show sphere, even if he's not nearly as big of a name as Alex Trebek or any of the guest hosts who have stepped in since Jeopardy restarted production following Trebek's death. Richards hosted Divided and The Pyramid, although for Game Show Network rather than a major broadcast network. He also hosted some reality shows, including High School Reunion on The WB and Beauty and the Geek once The WB rebranded into The CW.
Plus, Jeopardy hasn't been Mike Richards' only gig as a game show executive producer, as he joined The Price Is Right in 2008, the revival of Let's Make a Deal in 2009, and the celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He has reportedly produced upward of 4,000 hours of game show content. So, even if he's not as famous as LeVar Burton and other guest hosts when it comes to mainstream pop culture recognition, he certainly has the experience.
For now, fans can only wait and see if Jeopardy officially names Mike Richards (or anybody else) as the permanent host any time soon. More than half a year has passed with guest hosts leading the competition, and the anniversary of Alex Trebek's death is coming up in early November. The announcement may come sooner rather than later, but only time will tell. Be sure to vote in our poll below as to whether you think the Jeopardy executive producer would be the right choice!