Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday announced that, after a lengthy search process and close to a year of guest hosts, the “Jeopardy!” executive producer and the former “Big Bang Theory” actress will act as the permanent replacements for Alex Trebek. Trebek was the host of the popular game show for 37 years before he died in November of 2020 after a lengthy and public battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The current idea is to have Richards take over in Season 38 for regular play while the “Call Me Kat” star headlines an upcoming crop of spinoff and special event games such as the upcoming “Jeopardy! National College Championship” at ABC.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy!,” said Richards in a press release. “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 added: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family. 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!”
Bialik and Richards both acted as guest hosts while the minds behind the show tried to figure out a replacement for Trebek. While they were working, so too were the fans. The news will likely come as a disappointing blow to the myriad of “Jeopardy!” viewers who were hopeful that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow” actor LeVar Burton would be selected as the new permanent host after a fan petition gained thousands of signatures. Burton got a crack at being the man behind the podium along with other guest hosts throughout the past year such as Robin Roberts, Aaron Rodgers, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos and past winner Ken Jennings.
While Bialik joining the team comes as a bit of a surprise, it came to light last week that Richards was a front-runner in advanced negotiations for the hosting gig. However, early reactions to what was then only a potential full-time gig were marred by a previous discrimination lawsuit he faced while at “The Price Is Right” more than a decade ago.
Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik have been tapped to be the replacements for Alex Trebek on ‘Jeopardy!’ (Getty Images)
In an email to the “Jeopardy!” team obtained by Deadline, Richards addressed the situation on Tuesday.
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at ‘The Price Is Right’ ten 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 a 2010 complaint by Brandi Cochran, a former model on “The Price Is Right,” she claimed she was fired after becoming pregnant with twins while Richards served as co-executive producer. Cochran obtained more than $8.5 million in punitive damages.
Alex Trebek hosted ‘Jeopardy!’ until his death in November of 2020 at the age of 80. (Jeopardy! via AP)
In the email, Richards also confirmed he was approached to permanently host “Jeopardy!” shortly after Trebek passed away, which is why he was one of the early guest hosts. However, he noted in his email that no selection had yet been finalized.
Richards previously hosted the shows “Divided” and “The Pyramid,” both for Sony. Additionally, for the WB network, he hosted “High School Reunion” and for the CW, “Beauty and the Geek.”
Bialik, meanwhile, is perhaps best known for her starring role on “The Big Bang Theory,” which aired its final episode in May of 2019. In addition to her TV work, she also brings an academic spin to the “Jeopardy!” podium as she is also a neuroscientist.
“This is such an iconic and unbelievable piece of our collective culture, to be considered to be part of it really in any way,” Bialik said ahead of her guest hosting duties in May. “It’s an immense honor. Especially for someone who’s dedicated so much of my life to academia to knowing things and to being able to communicate things.”
Fox News’ Jessica Napoli contributed to this report.