Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards will take control of the show beginning Monday night. Richards will fill in as interim host along with several other guest hosts after the death of Alex Trebek. Richards said he plans to name a permanent replacement sometime this spring.
Ahead of his first show, Richards did reveal some behind-the-scenes information about his early days working with Trebek. Including the first time they met.
“I come in, I’m nervous, I’m the new executive producer,” Richards says in the video. “We haven’t met before. I sit down and he started to quiz me about the logistics of the other game shows I’d produced. He wanted to understand how we did them, how we loaded them in. Obviously, he’d been thinking about it a lot. And then he started to quiz me on the geography in the (United Kingdom) because he had just gotten back from the UK, and I studied in the UK. And … I looked at him and said ‘Is the great Alex Trebek quizzing me?’ And in his very calm way he said, ‘Well, I guess he is.’ I have a very fond memory of that first meeting.”
Richards also discussed an early meeting when Trebek invited the producer to his home. They sat down in Trebek’s study when Alex’s wife Jean came in.
“It was like he had not seen her for a month, but he had seen her just before that,” Richards recalled. “And so I just loved their relationship and their chemistry.”
Ken Jennings, the second-most winningest contestant in Jeopardy! history has hosted since Trebek’s death. The longtime game show icon died of pancreatic cancer late last year.
Mike Richards isn’t coming into the gig blind. He has hosted several game shows in the past. Those include Beauty and the Geek along with the classic game show Pyramid for GSN.
He’s also a prolific game show producer. At 45, he has already produced more than 4,500 hours of game show programming. He’s worked on the Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal. He also was behind-the-scenes for newer shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Weakest Link.