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Mike Richards is in line to take over as the permanent host of Jeopardy!. Variety first reported on Wednesday that Richards was in advanced negotiation stages, and sources told CNN on Thursday it’s effectively a done deal.
Industry sources have viewed Richards and Ken Jennings as the frontrunners for months, though often ranking Jennings ahead of Richards.
Casual Jeopardy! fans are mostly unfamiliar with Richards, but he’s no stranger to the show or its decision-makers. Richards is Jeopardy!’s executive producer and has plenty of pull behind the scenes.
“We aren’t looking for a three-year host, we’re looking for a 10-year or a 20-year host,” Richards, 46, said in May. “Stability is one of the show’s strengths, so we need to consider who’s got a 20-year horizon and who can focus on the show and make it great over that time.”
It turns out, that host who Richards has sought is himself.
Thus, media writers raised their eyebrows after reports surfaced that Richards was in line for the job.
“Jeopardy! fans were surprised by a report that the man leading the search to replace Alex Trebek might be going for the job himself,” the New York Times while criticizing the move.
The truth is, most TV job openings are won not because of talent, but behind-the-scenes relationships. So, why not let a producer benefit this time?
Richards also did well in his tryout in February. Richards is smooth on the air and averaged a 5.9 TV rating from February 22 – March 5, the second-highest average behind Jennings.
Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra made the final call on Richards.
Sources told CNN that Sony wanted the show’s next host to view Jeopardy! as his or her primary job, not a second or third gig, which is why Aaron Rodgers didn’t get the call.
Because Richards is set to take over a once-in-a-generation role as Jeopardy!’s host, he also inherits a considerable amount of pressure. No one — not Richards, Jennings, Aaron Rodgers, or Bobby Burack — can replace Alex Trebek.
As I say, it’s better to replace the guy who replaced the guy, than to replace the guy. Mike Richards is now tasked to be the guy who replaces the guy, so best of luck to him. He has tremendous shoes to fill.