Mike Richards Named New Permanent Jeopardy! Host, Mayim Bialik Tapped to Host Spinoff Series
Jeopardy! officially has its next host.
Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards was announced as the permanent host of the hit syndicated game show on Wednesday, about nine months after the death of longtime host Alex Trebek. Additionally, Mayim Bialik has been tapped to host Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series, including the just-announced Jeopardy! National College Championship, an all-new tournament which will air in primetime on ABC in 2022.
"We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America's Favorite Quiz Show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of Jeopardy!," Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures, said in a statement. "We took this decision incredibly seriously."
The statement continued, "A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show — deservedly so because it's Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers."
"We knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities and it became very clear that Mike and Mayim were the undeniable choices. They were both at the top of our research and analysis. Mike is a unique talent, at ease behind the podium and a double threat as producer and host. Mayim has a wonderful energy, an innate sense of the game, and an authentic curiosity that naturally represents the Jeopardy! brand. We are excited to get to work with them both and are confident that they will carry on the legacy of this iconic show."
Both Richards, 46, and Bialik, 45, guest-hosted the show in recent months while executives were on the hunt for a full-time replacement — Richards in February and the Big Bang Theory alum in May.
"I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy!," Richards said in a statement. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude. I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show. I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love. I am thrilled that Mayim is joining the Jeopardy! team. Her academic track record and enthusiasm for the game made her a terrific guest host. It will be a privilege to produce the primetime series with her as host."
Added Bialik, who has her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, "I couldn't be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family. What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I'm so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I'm just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we've had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!"
In an internal memo sent to staffers earlier this week obtained by CNN, he confirmed that he was in discussions to be the next host of Jeopardy! and addressed "complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right 10 years ago."
Accusations of pregnancy discrimination arose in two complaints filed by former Price Is Right models from Richards' time serving as executive producer of The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal. Richards was not personally named in the lawsuits, which were filed against CBS and producer Fremantle Media.
"These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show," Richards wrote in the staff letter. "I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price Is Right."
RELATED VIDEO: Savannah Guthrie on Alex Trebek's Legacy, Says New Host of Jeopardy! Will Have 'Big Shoes to Fill'
Trebek, who began hosting the show in 1984, died last November at the age of 80, over a year after he was first diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. After nearly 40 years, his final day in the studio was Oct. 29 — just 10 days before his death — and his last episode as host aired in January.
In an interview with Today at the time, Richards called Trebek "an absolute warrior."
"What he was able to do by getting himself back to the set to tape those final episodes, and we didn't know it was going to be his final episodes and neither did he, but it was herculean," he said.
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"Alex was a legend, revered by all of us," Richards said in a statement announcing the first round of guest hosts earlier this year. "I want to thank our guest hosts, who will not only help all of us celebrate his great legacy, but also bring their own touch to the show."
The 38th season of Jeopardy!, with Richards as host, is set to premiere Sep. 13.