Jeopardy! Is Reportedly Close to Naming a New Host—and It’s Not LeVar Burton

After months of guest hosts, a media report on the beloved game show’s future has people appropriately asking, ”Who is Mike Richards?”

After months of splashy guest hosts jockeying to fill Alex Trebek’s substantial shoes and fevered speculation among fans and former contestants, Variety reported on Wednesday that Jeopardy! is in “advanced negotiations” to make executive producer Mike Richards the game show’s permanent host.

Who, now?

While he might not be immediately recognizable, 46-year-old Richards is sort of a veteran of the game show realm at this point. Early in his career, he served as master of ceremonies on a couple of forgettable basic cable reality shows—High School Reunion and Beauty and the Geek—but went on to helm Divided and The Pyramid on Game Show Network. Behind the scenes, he’s made big inroads as an executive producer in game shows, serving as EP on The Price Is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Wheel of Fortune. As Variety reports, “By the time he took the reins [as EP] of Jeopardy!, Richards had produced more than 4,000 hours of game shows.” He’s also won three Daytime Emmys (including one for Jeopardy! in 2021) and has been nominated a whopping 17 times.

This is apparently cold comfort to fans of LeVar Burton, the Reading Rainbow host and Star Trek alum who recently had a stint as guest host, following a lineup that included everyone from daytime TV’s Dr. Oz to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“YALL COULD HAVE A WHOLE ICONIC LEVAR BURTON BUT YOU PICKING CHAD MCWHITERSON FOR… WHAT???” tweeted author Luvvie Ajayi, who was one of many people who seemed befuddled by the show’s perhaps less diverse decision.

Burton himself has made peace with the apparent decision. On Thursday morning he tweeted: “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”

The venerable quiz show has been without a host since Trebek passed away in November 2020 after 36 years behind the podium. A spokesman for for Sony Pictures, which produces the show, wouldn’t comment to Variety specifically on Richards’s status as a contender for the job, but said that discussions were ongoing with several potential candidates.

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