Two hosts? Jeopardy! announces controversial pick, actress as permanent hosts

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

A decision has been made. The search for a replacement for the late, great Alex Trebek to host Jeopardy! has been named. It will take not one but two people to fill Trebek’s shoes. One will host the syndicated game show and the other will host a primetime spinoff show.

Jeopardy! exec producer Mike Richards will take over as the full-time host of the syndicated show. Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will host a Jeopardy! primetime spinoff series. The spinoff includes ABC’s recently announced National College Championship. Trebek’s legacy is one of professional demeanor and sticking to the game. He didn’t venture off into current events or opining with unsolicited political opinions and that made watching Jeopardy! a breath of fresh air. Both Richards and Bialik did well in their two-week tryouts, apparently.

“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s Favorite Quiz Show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of ‘Jeopardy!,’” said Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures. “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show – deservedly so because it’s ‘Jeopardy!’ and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek.”

Ahuja continued, “We knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities and it became very clear that Mike and Mayim were the undeniable choices. They were both at the top of our research and analysis. Mike is a unique talent, at ease behind the podium and a double threat as producer and host. Mayim has a wonderful energy, an innate sense of the game, and an authentic curiosity that naturally represents the ‘Jeopardy!’ brand. We are excited to get to work with them both and are confident that they will carry on the legacy of this iconic show.”

Richards was the target of a last-minute #MeToo style campaign when it became clear he was a frontrunner for the job.

During his tenure as a co-executive producer of The Price Is Right, Richards’ alleged views on his female workers came into focus because of a discrimination lawsuit filed by Brandi Cochran in 2010 against CBS and FremantleMedia.

Cochran was a model on the show, but after taking time off for her pregnancy, she wasn’t invited to rejoin Price Is Right. She claimed being the victim of pregnancy discrimination. The case was ultimately settled. While Richards was exec producing The Price Is Right, it faced additional pregnancy discrimination claims beyond those made by Cochran. They weren’t successful.

“These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right,” Richards noted in his memo to staff this week.

Both Richards and Bialik released statements on the announcement.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of ‘Jeopardy!,’” said Richards. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude. I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the ‘Jeopardy!’ family,” Bialik said. “What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I’m so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I’m just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we’ve had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!”

We watch Jeopardy! regularly and observed the various candidates try out for the job. Thank goodness Savannah Guthrie, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Anderson Cooper, or George Stephanopoulos were not chosen. No one needs left-wing hacks on a game show. LeVar Burton was a viewer favorite and it seemed to be his fans who started the kerfuffle on social media against Richards. He was a class act, though, and expressed his gratitude for the chance to host the show even if he didn’t get the full-time gig.

So, we’ll see how this all works out. Ken Jennings, the highest-earning American game show contestant of all time, will be a consulting producer for the show. He holds the record for the longest winning streak on the show, winning 74 consecutive games.