“Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Mike Richards has taken over hosting duties on the show as producers search for a permanent replacement for late host Alex Trebek. Trebek had hosted the show for 36 years until his death of pancreatic cancer last November.
Richards, 45, was a surprise host; he agreed to fill in when they couldn’t line up their celebrity guest hosts in time.
How Long Is Richards Guest Hosting?
Richards has already taped two weeks of “Jeopardy!” shows, per Deseret News. His final episode will air on March 5.
“I didn’t know I was going to be doing it until three days before,” Richards admitted to USA Today. “And so I had not prepared myself to host in the way that I know other guest hosts are. So there was just a lot to unpack. Plus, I also only owned one suit, so there was a little bit of scrambling there.”
Richards said whoever becomes the permanent host will have some big shoes to fill. It’s a tough balancing act replacing Alex Trebek, who made the job look so effortless.
“You have to have on ‘Jeopardy!’ someone who’s larger than life, but also humble in the same way that isn’t going to make the game about them, in any way,” Richards explained.
‘Jeopardy’ Host Has to Be Smart, Centrist
Richards also shared with USA Today some of the qualities they’re looking for in a replacement for Trebek. He said it helped that Trebek often was the smartest guy on stage, but at the same time, he didn’t act like it.
“There was an element of Alex pulling very hard for the contestants,” Richards said. “He wasn’t trying to show them up. He wasn’t trying to be the smartest guy on the stage even though it might have been Alex, although he would have denied that and hated that I said that. The ability to be funny and get something out of those (contestant) interviews is important.”
In addition to a quick mind, the host has to have a good voice and be able to nail the pronunciations.
And it’s important that Trebek’s replacement be a centrist, Richards said. There was no politicking during Trebek’s tenure on “Jeopardy!”.
“In many ways, Alex was such a centrist,” Richards said. “He didn’t spark debate and was not controversial in any way.”