“Jeopardy” close to picking its new host: It’s Mike?

Comes after months of guest hosts

News leaked Wednesday on who would be the successor of the late Alex Trebek as host of one of television’s most popular and iconic game shows.

Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune executive producer Mike Richards (not the Kramer guy from Seinfeld) is now the front runner to take over the long-running game show starting this fall as he is in “advanced negotiations” to land the gig. The news caught many off-guard, as the show has used guests hosts to fill-in after Trebek’s passing last November.

The news was first reported by Variety as producer Sony Pictures Television had no comment. Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune are distributed by CBS Media Ventures but has no editorial or managerial say in how the show is produced. Jeopardy airs weekdays at 3:30p.m. on ABC 7 where it has been a success story for 37 years. 

Richards was hired in September 2020 to replace longtime executive producer Harry Friedman in the role, who retired. 

Since Trebek’s passing, numerous celebrity guest hosts have filled including Ken Jennings, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, LeVar Burton, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Mayim Bialik, among others including Richards himself.

Many people took to social media to voice their displeasure over the likely choice, as many were lobbying Burton and others to get the coveted job.

Other detractors also point the history of harassment he’s been involved in, especially when he was executive producer of The Price Is Right, as this story illustrates from 2012. However, others have defended Richards given his knowledge of the game and the positive reviews he received when he was guest host. 

Richards has had game show hosting experience before: In 2012, he emceed the short-lived Pyramid on GSN, and also hosted two reality shows, High School Reunion and Beauty And The Geek

This isn’t the first time someone has called into question whether or not a search for a replacement in a role was a sham. In 2015, then-classic rock station WLUP-FM (The Loop) held a “contest” to see who would fill the station’s vacant morning drive slot. Among the four contenders vying for the job, it was clear Mancow Muller was going to “win” the job as the “contest” – really nothing more than a publicity stunt as it appeared station management made their minds up beforehand. The station even put a disclaimer at the bottom of a website stating the contest was not real and for “research purposes only”. This atrocity was one of numerous problems at the one-time rock powerhouse, who was sold in 2018 and flipped to Christian music. 

Similar to the Loop fiasco, it appears Richards was offered the job months ago, and many of the guest hosts had really no realistic shot of winning the position. For those wondering if was a succession plan, it turns out there was a succession plan all along – the plan was not to let you – the home viewer, know about it and the only thing missing was an on-screen disclaimer stating the guest host search was for “research purposes only”. 

If viewers reject Richards as host, it’ll meet the same fate as The Loop. If linear TV wants to stay relevant, it’s best not to borrow a playbook from a dead radio station.  

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