Mike Richards officially has been named host of the day-to-day syndicated version of Sony Pictures Television’s Jeopardy! with Mayim Bialik taking on primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship that will air in primetime on ABC next year. While serving as host, Richards will also continue to executive produce both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
“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!,” said Ravi Ahuja, chairman of global television studios and corporate development for Sony Pictures, in a statement. “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. 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.”
Variety first reported that Richards, who joined the program in September 2020, was in advanced talks to host the show.
After that story broke, stories surfaced on social media that Richards had been named in pregnancy discrimination lawsuits filed while he was executive producing Fremantle’s The Price Is Right, which airs in daytime on CBS. On Monday, Richards addressed those issues in a memo to staff.
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price Is Right 10 years ago,” he wrote. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. 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. I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”
In an interview with B&C in May, Richards said the decision on who would become the permanent host would be made by higher-ups at Sony and that while he had input into the decision, the final choice was not his.
“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,” Ahuja said. “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.”
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy!,” said Richards 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.”
Bialik’s role is a new one for the show, which is looking to expand its brand on to new platforms, including ABC primetime where it had success with its Greatest of All Time tournament that was ultimately won by Jennings. The National College Championship is an all-new Jeopardy! Tournament that features players from 15 colleges going head-to-head across two weeks of competition.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” Bialik said, also in a statement. Bialik is the star of such TV shows as Blossom, The Big Bang Theory and Call Me Kat. “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!”
Besides Richards, Bialik and Jennings, a series of guest hosts have taken turns at the Jeopardy! podium in 2021, including Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, LeVar Burton, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Joe Buck, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Buzzy Cohen and David Faber. Richards’ guest hosting appearances aired February 22-March 5 and Bialik served as guest host from May 31- June 11.
As part of each host’s appearance, a donation was made to a charity of their choice, with the amount donated equaling the cumulative winnings of the contestants that competed during the weeks they served as guest host. In total, Jeopardy! donated nearly $3 million to various charities this past season.
Prior to joining Sony Pictures in 2019, Richards executive produced CBS's The Price Is Right for 11 years. He also served as executive producer of CBS's Let’s Make a Deal. He’s also hosted five series, including Beauty and the Geek, Game Show Network's 2016–17 version of Divided and the 2012 revival of The Pyramid. Game Show Network is owned by Sony Pictures.
Besides starring on TV shows, Bialik is a neuroscientist who hosts mental health podcast, “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown.” She also recently wrote and directed her first feature film, As Sick As They Made Us, starring Dustin Hoffman and Candice Bergen.
Richards takes the podium permanently when Jeopardy! returns for season 38 on Sept. 13.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.