Jeopardy! has officially named Mike Richards as its new daily host, replacing beloved quiz master Alex Trebek, who passed away late last year from pancreatic cancer.
Additionally, Jeopardy! has announced that Mayim Bialik, former star of Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, will host a series of primetime specials and a potential spinoff series.
“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.”
Richards has served as an executive producer on Jeopardy! since last year, and previously held a similar role on game shows including The Price Is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and the celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. He does have some on-camera experience, however, having previously hosted WB’s High School Reunion as well as the CW’s Beauty and the Geek.
But Richards’ hiring is not without controversy; as he emerged as the frontrunner for the gig, his involvement in past employment discrimination lawsuits resurfaced. In a memo sent to Jeopardy! staff earlier this week, Richards acknowledged the allegations but said “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.”
Richards and Bialik were among several guest hosts who initially hosted Jeopardy! in the months following Trebek’s death. Sony “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” before making their final decision, according to Ahuja.
Other guest hosts included Aaron Rodgers, Savannah Guthrie, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Anderson Cooper, and LeVar Burton, who publicly campaigned for the job.