An announcement to name Alex Trebek's successor on Jeopardy! could be imminent, as executive producer Mike Richards is reportedly in "advanced negotiations" to get the job full time. Last year, Trebek passed away at the age of 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. As following Trebek isn't easy for anyone, the decision was made to use a slew of celebrity guest hosts to fill in temporarily until the choice could be made.
After a variety of guest hosts have since filled in, Variety reported on Wednesday that Richards is the apparent frontrunner who's in talks to become the permanent host of Jeopardy!. Richards, who joined the series just last year as executive producer, also served as one of the earlier guest hosts for the new season. The higher-ups at Sony Pictures were reportedly impressed with his "command of the fast-paced game and easy on-air manner."
Richards would be coming into the potential gig with some hosting experience. He previously hosted Divided and The Pyramid for the Sony-backed cabler GSN. He previously served as host of the reality shows High School Reunion for the WB Network and Beauty and the Geek for the CW. Also an executive producer for The Price Is Right, Let's Make a Deal, and the celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Richards had produced more than 4,000 hours of game shows by the time he arrived at Jeopardy!.
While this is great news for Richards, it's not so much for LeVar Burton and his fans. Following a popular fan campaign for Burton to get the job, he recently served as one of the final celebrity guest hosts of this season. He had publicly expressed his desire to stick around full time as he felt Jeopardy! was the job he'd been preparing all his life for. Even so, he was also prepared to accept the news that he wouldn't get the job, even if it leaves him disappointed.
"It will hurt," Burton told TVLine in June. "I'm not going to lie. But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It's all going to be okay. Because it always is."
Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory was another guest host that earned a lot of praise from Jeopardy! viewers while she guest hosted the show. Some of the other guest hosts for this season includes names like Anderson Cooper, Ken Jennings, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, George Staphanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Rodgers, and Buzzy Cohen.
Mike Richards, who's now in advanced talks to replace Trebek full time, previously said of naming the Jeopardy! host: "Our goal has been to present a wide variety of guest hosts with different skill sets and backgrounds on our path to finding a permanent host. Our passionate fans are telling us what they like, and we are listening. All of the guest hosts have brought individualism, energy, and an authentic love of our show to each of the episodes."
As of now, a spokesman for Sony Pictures would only confirm that discussions were ongoing with "several potential candidates," refusing to comment specifically on Richards' status. An official announcement is likely to be coming soon with negotiations for the job happening now. This news comes to us from Variety.