Following the death of the beloved Alex Trebek, “Jeopardy!” executives searched tirelessly for someone that could replace the legendary host full-time.
After months of guest hosts and potential long-term contenders, “Jeopardy!” landed on their very own executive producer, Mike Richards. He stepped down nine days after being awarded the prestigious hosting job after past sexist and derogatory comments came to light.
One of the other options that seemed like a good fit to many fans is “Jeopardy!” icon Ken Jennings. He is known for his 74-game winning streak in 2004. He also is a consulting producer for the show.
So, why wasn’t Jennings selected over Richards?
Ken Jennings Not Selected as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host
Apparently, Jennings may have not been selected due to old offensive tweets from the past. According to the Wall Street Journal, the host was seen as too controversial following the tweets that were called to light.
One of his old tweets from 2014 said, “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” This is all came to light while he was guest hosting the show. He issued an apology during his stint as the host as well.
However, it was all too much for the “Jeopardy!” executives. At one point, he was considered the “ideal candidate,” but the backlash knocked him down several pegs. Additionally, the “Jeopardy!” team has been relying on data from focus groups and other research panels to try to find a host. All the drama with his tweets caused focus groups to react poorly to him.
Jennings was a huge contender for the role, given the fact that he has been close with the franchise for over 15 years and was also close with Alex Trebek. He was given some of Trebek’s old cufflinks as well as a special note from Jean Trebek, Alex Trebek’s wife, before he started filming as guest host.
Now, it seems like many fans have decided that the very best host would be “Star Trek” and “Reading Rainbow” icon, LeVar Burton. They made several strong cases for giving him the hosting job and Burton has also shared how badly he wants the position. He has been a strong role model for many years.
Awkward Moment on Set
Prior to stepping down from his role, Richards had an uncomfortable moment with Ken Jennings. Richards was filming for season 38 of the show. There was a ceremony to honor Trebek prior to the taping.
Buzzy Cohen and Ken Jennings were at the ceremony, along with many others, and expected to go to the debut taping right after. According to The New York Times, Richards and Cohen were instead escorted to a green room and had to watch the taping over a closed feed instead. Apparently, Richards was too nervous to have them in the studio.
Sony executives have since stated that this was due to COVID-19 procedures that limit gatherings of people. However, it also serves as an example of the tensions that Richards brought to the studio stage.