'Jeopardy!' names 2 hosts, Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik, to be faces of famed quiz show

https://nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jeopardy-names-2-hosts-mike-richards-mayim-bialik-be-faces-n1276577

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"Jeopardy!" executive producer Mike Richards will be the new daily host of the venerable quiz show, while actor Mayim Bialik was tabbed for franchise spinoffs, Sony Pictures Television said Wednesday.

The announcements capped months of speculation, and heated fan debate, about who should fill the role left vacant by the late Alex Trebek last year.

Trebek, who had been the face of the franchise since 1984, died on Nov. 8, 2020, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Both Richards and Bialik were among more than a dozen people — including former top contestants and celebrities — who served as interim guest hosts for Season 37 of the show after Trebek's passing.

“We took this decision incredibly seriously. 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," Ravi Ahuja, chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures, said in a statement.

Richards, 46, has been at the helm of "Jeopardy!" since executive producer Harry Friedman stepped down last year. He stepped in as host from Feb. 22 until March 5.

Bialik, 45, has one of the most diverse resumes of any of the "Jeopardy!" guest hosts. She was a child star on the NBC sitcom "Blossom" in the early 1990s before going back to school and earning bachelor and doctorate degrees from UCLA in neuroscience.

She had a rousing second act on the small screen, appearing in 203 episodes of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" between 2010 and 2019, earning four best support actress Emmy nominations.

While Richards will be the daily host, Bialik will be he face of new spinoffs, the first of which will be the "Jeopardy! National College Championship" on ABC.

The decision to employ two hosts surprised some viewers, especially the selection of Richards, who was among the lesser known faces who filled in this season.

Though he has years of prior experience on-camera — including as host of the WB’s “High School Reunion” and CW’s “Beauty and the Geek” in the early 2000s — he became more known for his work on game shows behind the scenes.

Other guest hosts had also garnered more fan support. Some other big names who helped host include "Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings, veteran journalist Katie Couric and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

LeVar Burton, who won multiple Daytime Emmy Awards as frontman for the PBS educational series "Reading Rainbow," was among those considered a fan favorite.

More than 200,000 people had signed a petition calling for Burton to be the new “Jeopardy!” host. Burton has been publicly jockeying for the gig for at least eight years.

"LeVar Burton should be the next host of 'Jeopardy!' " tweeted Army veteran, LGBTQ activist and "Jeopardy" fan Charlotte Clymer. "I can't believe we're even having this discussion. He's the obvious choice."

When news broke that Richards was the frontrunner for the hosting gig, some show fans pointed out that Richards had been involved in two discrimination lawsuits.

"@Jeopardy is so set to tank Alex Trebek's legacy," one Twitter user posted on Aug. 6, adding: "they are going with a bland and pedestrian host with a disturbing past. Do better #Jeopardy!"

One of the suits was filed by Brandi Cochran, a former model for "The Price is Right," who said she was fired after she became pregnant. The suit, filed in March 2010, listed the defendants as CBS Corporation, CBS Television Network, Fremantle Media and “The Price is Right.”

Richards, who was a producer for the show, was not listed as a defendant but was accused in the suit of treating Cochran differently after she announced she was pregnant in late 2008. The case went to trial and a jury awarded Cochran more than $8 million. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge later overturned it and Cochran and the defendants settled outside of court, documents show.

In 2011, Lanisha Cole, another "Price is Right" model, filed a lawsuit. Richards was among the named defendants. However, he was later dropped as a defendant and the suit was settled in 2013, according to The Daily Beast.

Some, like "Community" actress Yvette Nicole Brown, praised Richards as "a great game show host." However, she faulted "Jeopardy" for not picking a woman or minority. She said the moment "calls for something other than another white man."

"If all things are equal, and in accounting talent and draw and even skill to host the show— all things are equal — in this day and time and place in American history, you choose #diversity," she wrote.

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