Now that popular contestant Ken Jennings’ six-week fill in stint is over – following the recent death of Alex Trebek – the new interim host is none other than the show’s executive producer Mike Richards.
The 45-year-old Burbank, California-native has won three Daytime Emmy Awards and garnered 17 nominations in career that dates back to 20 years ago and a resume of producing game shows such as “The Weakest Link,” “Let’s Make A Deal,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
Although the photogenic Pepperdine University alum has appeared in front of the camera as a host (“Beauty and the Geek”), background actor (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) and talking head (“Unsung Hollywood”) through the years, he’s made his bones behind the scenes.
For his high-wattage “Jeopardy!” gig, Richards did not know about it “until three days before” filming.
“I didn’t know I was going to be doing it until three days before, and so I had not prepared myself to host in the way that I know other guest hosts are,” Richards revealed to USA Today. “So there was just a lot to unpack.”
“Plus, I also only owned one suit, so there was a little bit of scrambling there,” he recalled. “It was very fun; ‘humbling’ doesn’t begin to describe the feeling. It hit me like a ton of bricks when Johnny Gilbert announced my name. That’s of course the last thing you hear when you start to walk out. … and it was overwhelming in the moment.” And he’s a hit.
Online fans are giving Richards the thumbs up to be the permanent host of the show.
“Mike Richards is A+ so far. Super palatable, just the right amount of jokes, not trying to bask in the limelight,” one Twitter user wrote. “Keep him!”
“Please keep Mike Richards on @Jeopardy for forever. He’s confident, charming, and easy on the eyes,” another user tweeted. “No one will replace Alex, but Mike is the next best thing.”
So far Richards has stood behind the lectern for two weeks worth of episodes, to be followed by the first batch of celebrity guest hosts.
Former “Today” anchor Katie Couric will start her fill-in role on March 8, followed by Dr. Mehmet Oz on March 22.
On April 5, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fills in. The footballer is the 2015 “Celebrity Jeopardy!” champion.
Each guest will have a two-week stint and taped their 10 episodes over two days in January.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, current “Today” host Savannah Guthrie, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and “The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik have also been announced as future hosts.