Ever since beloved Jeopardy host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer, the question of who would take over his duties as host has lingered. While numerous guest hosts had their time in the spotlight auditioning for the job, including everyone from actors such as LeVar Burton to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the show eventually settled on executive producer Mike Richards to be the permanent host. However, as comments emerged from podcasts done over the years and accusations of misconduct also came to light, Richards chose to step down from his new job after hosting for only five episodes. Now, it appears Mike Richards will also be leaving his duties as executive producer of not only Jeopardy, but also Wheel of Fortune.
As for who will be taking over these duties, that still remains to be seen. Current plans have actress Mayim Bialik, who was a guest host and has been tabbed to host Jeopardy prime-time episodes and other specials, taking over the hosting duties on a temporary basis. But as the show’s producers go back to the drawing board in the search for Alex Trebek’s successor, some industry observers believe it may be Bialik’s job to lose.
In a memo sent out to staff members for both Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, Sony Vice-President Suzanne Prete stated that Michael Davies, who has been executive producer of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, will now serve as executive producer for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on a temporary basis. According to Prete, Sony had hoped that once Richards decided to remove himself from the Jeopardy hosting position, the situation would calm down. However, as more allegations began to emerge from his stint as executive producer on The Price is Right, it became clear more turmoil would continue. Thus, after internal discussions with Richards and others, the decision was made to have him step aside from his duties altogether.
Since Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are two of the most successful game shows of all-time, Sony and its executives realize the next moves they make could mean millions or even billions of dollars in profits or losses for the company. Since Bialik also has a sitcom that takes up her time, it remains to be seen whether she will want to take on permanent hosting duties. In the meantime, executives may be placing calls to Levar, Aaron, and many others.