‘Jeopardy!’ Executive Producer Mike Richards Reveals How They Selected Guest Hosts For the Show

Jeopardy! has a full rotation of guest hosts ined up after Ken Jennings finished his six-week stint at the iconic lectern. Executive producer Mike Richards is currently at the helm of the quiz board, with Katie Couric manning the post after Richards signs off on March 5.

With viewers and Jeopardy! staffers still mourning the death of game show icon Alex Trebek in November 2020, choosing guest hosts became an unimaginable task. Richards explained how they went about the challenging selection process.

Game show host Alex Trebek poses on the set of the 'Jeopardy!' Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show
Alex Trebek of ‘Jeopardy!’ | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

‘Jeopardy!’ celebrity lineup includes journalists and talk show hosts

With high-profile talents including Dr. Mehmet Oz, Anderson Cooper, Aaron Rodgers, and Mayim Bialik, Richards shared that many of the upcoming guest hosts of Jeopardy! were fans of the game show. Each famous personality stepping into the role wants to pay tribute to Trebek.

“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,” Richards told USA Today. “This is not a host competition. This is people who love this game, and their respect for Alex is off the charts.”

The Jeopardy! executive producer made a point of selecting those that experienced a true kinship with the show rather than just a passing fancy.

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“That’s how we went about it: Who would feel a connection?” Richards explained. “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.”

‘Jeopardy!’ executive producer Mike Richards wants audience feedback

Richards noted that he had specific reasons for recruiting some of the guest hosts.

“Dr. Oz is someone who was very close to Alex,” he remarked. “Aaron Rodgers loves that game at a visceral level.”

Now tasked with naming a permanent Jeopardy! host, Richards is hoping to get input from viewers.

“We’re going to look at the guest hosts, we want to see how the community reacts, how people feel,” Richards explained. “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.”

Mike Richards isn’t rushing to name permanent ‘Jeopardy!’ host

With guest hosts slated for the next several months, Richards isn’t planning on picking the permanent Jeopardy! host anytime soon.

“My guess is it’s going to be the end of this season or the summer when we’re going to make that announcement,” he said. “That decision hasn’t been made.”

Richards also noted that some of those pinch hitting at the podium for now are under consideration for the full-time gig.

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“That’s why it’s important to see people do it,” he explained. “We want to look at everyone. It’s not like I’ve got the person and I’m just holding them back. We’re legitimately looking at some of these [guest hosts]… you might like some, you might not like some others. Let’s be that welcoming Jeopardy! community. Let us know what you think, but let’s all be kind and open. Because in the end, that’s what Jeopardy! is and that’s what Alex was.”