Richards is in "advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television to become permanent host," replacing Alex Trebek full-time on Jeopardy!, reports Variety's Cynthia Littleton. "After Trebek’s death at the age of 80 in November 2020, Sony initiated a series of guest hosts, some of whom were hoping to land the permanent slot," Littleton adds. "Richards, who joined the show just last year as executive producer, impressed Sony Pictures brass with his command of the fast-paced game and easy on-air manner. A Sony Pictures spokesman said discussions were ongoing with several potential candidates. He would not comment specifically on Richards’ status. A source close to the situation cautioned that there’s no certainty that the sides will close a deal and that other candidates remain in the mix, although Richards is clearly the front-runner." Richards, who ended up becoming Jeopardy!'s second guest-host earlier this year at the last minute, has previous game show-hosting experience, having hosted GSN's Divided and The Pyramid, plus The WB reality show High School Reunion and Beauty and the Geek. He was a finalist to host The Price is Right, but instead became that show's executive producer before landing at Jeopardy! in 2020. He also served as executive producer of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire specials, which is how he came to work for Sony.
Mike Richards as permanent host feels underwhelming, preordained and surprising: "The presence of Richards, a show insider, among vastly more well-known hosts was somewhat eyebrow-raising from the first," says Daniel D'Addario. "Richards’ performance was technically assured: He’s been a host on lesser shows like Beauty and the Geek before, and it’s no surprise that he knows the show he produces. But other hosts did a more effective job at bringing out contestants’ personalities than did Richards, who could be somewhat abrupt. Similarly halting were his show-ending tributes to Trebek. Though his intentions seemed good, Richards, in paying endless homage to his predecessor, ended up seeming the one thing the charmingly plainspoken Trebek rarely was: Stilted. There will be time for Richards to grow into the role, and, once the deal is done, the franchise’s fans must now root for him: He is to be the host we’ve got on a show whose legacy and format set it apart among its competitors. And it’s time for the show to settle into its new order — the search couldn’t go on forever. Whether or not Richards was always going to be the choice, though, the show did itself a service by letting the process of cycling through guests play out for a bit. Not merely did the electricity of proximity to Trebek’s sad loss fade a bit — hosts came to grow somewhat less florid in their memorializing him as time went by — but the show also worked through some possibilities of what could work and what might not. The modern viewer’s only meaningful encounter with the show had been with Trebek at its helm. What might it look like with, say, a more radically empathic emcee, like Katie Couric? Or a more laconic one, like Aaron Rodgers? Or a more enthusiastic one, like LeVar Burton?"