In an exclusive interview with USA Today, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ & ‘Jeopardy!’ Exec. Producer Mike Richards opens up significantly – touching on an array of topics. As the next guest host himself, eventually the trade asks Richards how he feels “All Time Champ” Ken Jennings has done in his time as interim host.
“It seems an impossible task to replace Alex the week after his final shows,” Today starts off. “But how do you think Ken did?”
“Ken did an amazing job; that’s why we picked him to do it,” Richards replies point-blank.
The future host adds goes a step further, even, stating that Jennings “did better than I thought, and my expectations were incredibly high. I think he was the perfect person to come onto the stage after Alex. Our fans, our staff and crew are all familiar with him. He came out, said the right things, was humbled by the situation, addressed the elephant in the room right away and said no one’s going to replace Alex, and they’re not. It’s a fool’s errand,” the producer continues.
All in all, Mike Richards believes “Ken hosted the show as Ken.” For ‘Jeopardy!’ and its millions of fans, this was absolutely the right move.
“And what you’ll see with all the guest hosts is they’re not distracting from the game; they pay homage to Alex, but they are also getting to show their unique talents within those confines,” Richards adds. “And they’re very strict confines: 61 clues in 22 minutes will never be done again on television, and it’s part of its beauty. I’m proud of Ken because I know he was very nervous, but also very up for it.”
Will Ken Jennings Be Considered as a Permanent ‘Jeopardy!’ Host?
“Yes, absolutely. I think we want to look at everyone,” the producer replies without hesitation. This is, without a doubt, both wonderful news for Jennings and longtime fans alike.
Playing off of this, the trade then asks how Richards and his team pick the other guest hosts. His answer, which includes his reasoning behind having Jennings step up first, goes a long way in showing why ‘Jeopardy!’ remains in excellent hands.
“There are people just kind of in the orbit that I knew feel very strongly about stepping in, not to try out for the role but to honor Alex,” Richards emphasizes. “This is not a host competition. This is people who love this game, and their respect for Alex is off the charts. That’s how we went about it: Who would feel a connection? Who has the unique talents?” he adds, praising their selection of interim hosts so far.
‘Jeopardy!’ fans may have quite a wait for the selection of a permanent new host, however. Richards adds that any “new face of ‘Jeopardy!'” won’t be selected until the beginning of Season 38 in September 2021.
Until then, stay tuned to Outsider.com for all the latest from “America’s Gameshow.”