While he’s typically been behind the scenes, “Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Mike Richards stepped in front of the camera to begin his two-week stint as interim host of the iconic quiz show.
On Monday night, Richards began the broadcast by introducing himself and explaining to viewers at home why there wasn’t a more well-known face on their TV sets such as a celebrity or “Jeopardy!” veteran.
“So, as the producer, my job is to quite literally live the mantra ‘the show must go on,'” Richards said. “So let’s do what Alex Trebek did 8,244 times: Let’s play ‘Jeopardy!’ and prove that nothing can stop this show.”
Even though Richards often works behind the scenes, he proved to be a natural on camera, and fans quickly took to social media to rave about his hosting performance.
Richards took over as guest host for Ken Jennings, who Richards said had to step down as host due to obligations with his other show, “The Chase.”
On Friday, Jennings thanked fans for their support during his time behind the “Jeopardy!” podium.
“That’s a wrap on my six weeks of @Jeopardy guest hosting,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thanks for watching, thanks for your patience with a tough learning curve…and, as always, thank you Alex.”
Jennings paid tribute to Trebek at the end of every episode by signing off with,“Thank you, Alex.”
He told a fan on Twitter that it was actually Richards who came up with the idea.
“Every single time @KenJennings thanks Alex at the end of @Jeopardy, I get all choked up. I hope he never stops,” Jessica Brody tweeted.
“’Thanks, Alex’ was suggested as a sign-off by executive producer Mike Richards, and I’m glad he did. There wouldn’t be a show without Alex,” Jennings replied.
‘Jeopardy!’ EP Mike Richards Tributes Alex Trebek During Epsiode
At the end of Richard’s first episode, he took a moment to appreciate Trebek’s legacy and dying wish.
“I just want to say, as Alex said, we’re trying to build a kinder and gentler society,” Richards said. “And if we all pitch in just a little bit, we’re going to get there. See you next time.”
The show then ended with a black screen with white text that paid tribute to Trebek.
“Dedicated to Alex Trebek,” the slate read. “Forever in our Hearts, Always our Inspiration.”
Richards’ quote referenced a speech Trebek gave in the first of his final episodes that aired in January, calling on viewers to be kind amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones, but today I’d like you to go one step further,” Trebek said. “I’d like you to open up your hands and open up your heart to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society. And if we all pitch in just a little bit, we’re gonna get there.”