‘Jeopardy!’ Fans React to Latest Twist: ‘Who Is Mike Richards?’

‘Jeopardy!’ Fans React to Latest Twist: ‘Who Is Mike Richards?’

‘Jeopardy!’ Fans React to Latest Twist: ‘Who Is Mike Richards?’

‘Jeopardy!’ Fans React to Latest Twist: ‘Who Is Mike Richards?’

The man in charge of engineering a successful “Jeopardy!” succession may have found the perfect candidate: himself.

At least, that’s what Variety magazine is reporting, based on anonymous sources: Mike Richards, the executive producer of the quiz show, is said to be in advanced negotiations to become the permanent host.

Many fans reacted to the report with surprise and disappointment. And, just like on the show, many of their responses came in the form of a question. “Pretty on brand that everyone will be saying ‘Who is Mike Richards?’” Nick Ross, an artist and humor writer, tweeted.

Some even joked that Mr. Richards had pulled a Dick Cheney move, a reference to how Mr. Cheney, charged with vetting possible running mates for George W. Bush in 2000, got the job himself.

The “Jeopardy!” selection has taken more time than that long-ago episode in national politics. The show’s beloved host of 37 years, Alex Trebek, died in November of pancreatic cancer at age 80.

For eight months, Mr. Richards and the game-show staff have been testing out a series of guest hosts, with top contenders including the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; the former “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games; the actress and author Mayim Bialik; and the actor LeVar Burton, who has a legion of online supporters rooting for him.

The New York Times was unable to confirm the Variety report. Mr. Richards declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces the show, would say only that discussions with potential hosts were ongoing.

She added that the monthslong process of choosing a host was a “data-driven process” that was taking into account the views of fans and focus groups.

As speculation mounted in recent months over who would replace Mr. Trebek, perhaps Mr. Richards knew something the rest of the world did not. In a January interview with The Times, he said there would be “pressure and stress” on whoever was chosen. “Replacing a legend is going to be nerve-racking,” he said. “If you’re not nervous then you’re not paying attention.”

Despite all the online snark, Mr. Richards is no stranger to game-show audiences, including filling in as a “Jeopardy!” host.

The former host of the reality show “Beauty and the Geek,” he has seen a mixture of on- and off-camera work in his television career. When Bob Barker left “The Price Is Right” after 35 years, Mr. Richards tried out for the job but did not get it.

He previously told The Times that the key to successful new hosts was finding people who could play to their own strengths rather than mimicking their predecessors.

He said that the audience had needed some time to adjust to ‘Jeopardy!’ without Mr. Trebek as host — and that he needed time, too.

“Emotionally,” he said, “I am not ready for that.”

In recent months, Mr. Richards had been testing out how audiences responded to different guest hosts, including Mr. Burton, the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper and the veteran TV journalist Katie Couric.

Some fans were clearly hoping this would be a moment to add more diversity to the world of TV quiz shows.

One of those fans was Mr. Burton. On Thursday, he thanked his supporters on Twitter.

“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” he said. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible!”

In an interview with The New York Times Magazine this year, he said he wanted the job badly and had watched the show more or less every night for decades.

“I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “‘Jeopardy!’ is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant.”

Julia Jacobs contributed reporting.

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