In a New York Times article in which Jennings compares selecting the new Jeopardy! host to "choosing a pope," Michael M. Grynbaum and Nicole Sperling report that Richards "started as executive producer at both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in May 2020, replacing Harry Friedman, who oversaw both shows for 25 years. Mr. Richards overlapped with (Alex) Trebek on set for only 15 shoot days before the host stepped aside, 10 days before he died. Sony said that while Mr. Richards initially led the hunt for Mr. Trebek’s replacement, he moved aside after he emerged as a candidate. But as executive producer, Mr. Richards retained a key role in selecting which appearances by each prospective host would be screened for focus groups, whose reactions weighed heavily in Sony’s decision-making, according to three people familiar with the show’s internal deliberations. The other supervising Jeopardy! producers were excluded from that process, the people said. Asked about Mr. Richards’s role, Sony referred to a memo from its TV chairman, Ravi Ahuja, who told staff that after the company began considering Mr. Richards as a potential host, 'he was not part of' the selection process. The ultimate decision was made by Tony Vinciquerra, the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment." Meanwhile, in speaking for the first time since he lost out on the Jeopardy! hosting job, Jennings -- who is still a consulting producers on the show -- says Richards "was the only person up there with any game show hosting chops, and it showed." Jennings also agreed that the host should be a secondary figure: “What was great about Alex was we didn’t know anything about him: He came into our homes every night and he hosted Jeopardy!," said Jennings. “Today, it’s very hard to find a broadcaster whose priors and opinions you know nothing about.” Jennings added that he had no hard feelings and that he never played to lobby for the job in the media, calling himself "a company man." ALSO: John Oliver on Jeopardy! hosting search: “It is genuinely hard to imagine a five word phrase less welcome than ‘we know who you are’ aside from obviously ‘new Jeopardy! host Mike Richards.'"
TOPICS: Mike Richards, Jeopardy!, Ken Jennings, Game Shows