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Jeopardy! EP Mike Richards Discusses "Fun" and "Humbling" Stint as Guest Host

Mike Richards, Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is temporarily taking on a new role: guest host of the program. Richards discussed stepping in front of the microphone and the show's transition after the death of Alex Trebek with USA TODAY.

The publication noted that Richards has hosted gameshows before, but this experience is unique, given he's also the EP. What was it like? The exec dished:

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. So there was just a lot to unpack. Plus, I also only owned one suit, so there was a little bit of scrambling there. 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.

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Recently, celebrities like Savannah Guthrie and Dr. Oz have been announced as future guest hosts. How were they chosen? Richards explained:

Dr. Oz is someone who was very close to Alex. There are people just kind of in the orbit that I knew feel very strongly about stepping in, not to try out for the role but to honor Alex. This is not a host competition. This is people who love this game, and their respect for Alex is off the charts. That’s how we went about it: Who would feel a connection? Who has the unique talents? Because it’s so hard to host the show, as I can tell you having hosted five series myself. Each person brings their own intense love for the game. Aaron Rodgers loves that game at a visceral level.

When would Jeopardy! like to introduce a new permanent guest list? Richards said:

Perhaps sooner. We’re going to look at the guest hosts, we want to see how the community reacts, how people feel. I felt it was very important to not choose someone right away, because we are all still mourning Alex, we all still miss him. Whoever we put in that role would have been in an unwinnable war, so that’s the reason for the direction that we’ve taken. My guess is it’s going to be the end of this season or the summer when we’re going to make that announcement. That decision hasn’t been made.