Jeopardy! Producer Mike Richards in Negotiations to Become New Permanent Host — Report

Since long-time “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away last November, many have wondered who would be taking the reins as permanent host. Several different guests have assumed hosting duties over the last several months, including controversial choices like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Ken Jennings, whose past ableist tweets resurfaced when his temporary gig was announced.

In news exclusive to Variety, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards is considered the frontrunner to take over the job permanently. Richards joined the show last year as EP and, per the report, impressed producing studio, Sony Pictures, with his knowledge of the game and on-air manner.

Prior to working at “Jeopardy!” Richards hosted the game shows “Divided” and “The Pyramid” for Sony’s GSN channel. He also previously hosted “High School Reunion” and “Beauty and the Geek” and sold the revival of “Let’s Make a Deal” to CBS. He’s produced over 4,000 hours of game show programming in his career.

A Sony spokesperson said other candidates are being considered and would not discuss whether Richards is in contention. The move will certainly disappoint those who had hoped “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton would take the role.

Earlier this year, a petition gained ground asking for Burton to helm “Jeopardy.” The petition garnered over 230,000 signatures and the endorsement of hall of fame TV stars like Dick Van Dyke on social media. Burton said during an interview with IndieWire back in April that the groundswell shows the support of the fanbase that they’d be willing to go to a website and take the time to sign their name.

“It confirms for me what I, myself, believe in that I think I’m the best person for the job,” Burton said. “I can’t think of anybody, and I’ve tried, [that] I’d be OK with having the job beside myself.”

That’s not ego talking. Burton has a love and reverence for the series, right down to winning an edition of “Celebrity Jeopardy” back in 1995. Burton previously told The New York Times that “for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant.” “Jeopardy!” did feature Burton as a guest host from July 26 through July 30.

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