Editorial: I Wanted A Fair Process. I Didn’t Get One.

Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik, the two new hosts of Jeopardy!

I would like to open this article by unequivocally stating: Congratulations to Mayim Bialik. I very much look forward to watching her host the show’s prime-time spin-off specials, and very much look forward to covering those episodes.

Many of you have very much noticed that during Season 37, I have become more and more vocal in my opposition to Mike Richards. It’s a shame, because I very much wanted him to carry on the excellent job that Harry Friedman did in his many years as Executive Producer of the show.

Unfortunately, Mike Richards has yet to seemed to grasp the ethos of the show. The tone-deaf judges’ ruling in Final Jeopardy! in only Richards’ second episode as Executive Producer was a harbinger of things to come.

The ethos of Jeopardy! is truth. People trust Jeopardy! because they believe that the show is telling the truth. People trusted Alex Trebek because they believed he told the truth. When it came out last week that Mike Richards misrepresented the reasons behind his guest host stint, and was ultimately rewarded for it, it soured me and others on Richards even further. If we can’t trust what Richards is saying, how can we trust the material he presents as host?

Moreover, the viewers needed to perceive that the selection process was fair. When overwhelming fan favorite LeVar Burton was relegated to a single week of hosting—during the Olympics at that—it was perceived by many as Richards using his influence as Executive Producer to hamstring a major competitor for the host role. And if people don’t perceive the process to be fair, they’re going to be angry. That anger is what you’re seeing spill over on social media platforms, and that anger is what we’ll be seeing in the upcoming days and months. Going back to trust: If you don’t trust Mike Richards because you think he’s already trying to hurt Burton’s chances, how are you going to trust that LeVar Burton’s guest episodes were edited fairly? (After all, if LeVar received a poor edit, it might cause his supporters to be mocked online.)

All that I and many other fans wanted was for the host replacement process to be seen as fair. And with the announcement of Mike Richards as a host today, I don’t feel that I got that.

If you’re wondering what my future plans are: I won’t stop covering the show. I will still operate this website. You’ll very much likely find more statistical analysis. I’m going to be selfish here: this is as much a vehicle for professional skill-building for me as it is a repository of show recaps and statistics. It’s clear that this show isn’t going to last forever, and I’m clearly going to need to have some marketable skills for when Sony realizes that they’ve made a mistake that’s impossible to come back from with this hire, and the show enters the annals of history. Until then, I hope you enjoy my analysis.

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58 Comments on "Editorial: I Wanted A Fair Process. I Didn’t Get One."

  1. According to next.tv, Mike Richards put his position in the pole position to be selected to be the new permanent host. Not surprised considering his behavior in the past. Congratulations to Mayim, though.

  2. Billie Brewer | August 11, 2021 at 2:43 pm |

    Thanks, Andy. I couldn’t agree more. I’m very disappointed in both Sony and Richards.

  3. Yes, I completely agree. I look forward to the shows Mayim hosts but won’t watch any with Richards. The small issues during her guest host stint are easily fixed so I think she’ll do well.

  4. Even though this process was doomed from the start, this still feels like a let-down. I don’t get the Bialik thing at all. If she’s good enough for the prime time specials, let her have the syndicated show. (I was on holiday during her two weeks and missed her stint–sounds like she was decent. Weird for a show like Jeopardy to pull from the ex-cast of The Big Bang Theory, though.) This just feels like tokenism.

    As for Richards… come on. If the producers wanted an experienced game show host, why didn’t they audition other experienced game show hosts? Richards brings nothing further to the table. Lots of superior generic white guy options (Faber in particular comes to mind).

    Ah well. At least we all get to vent on the Internet.

    • She was fantastic. My third favorite right behind Ken and then Buzzy. I also thought David Faber was excellent.

  5. Andrea DeRouen | August 11, 2021 at 3:54 pm |

    I’m so disappointed. Richards pulled a Cheney and in the same vein is a horrible choice for the position. Before his death it seemed Alex wanted a Black female lawyer he knew to replace him. We couldn’t be farther from that. I will continue to watch for the parts I like but I think I will seethe every time Richards says more than the question.

  6. brandon bennett | August 11, 2021 at 3:55 pm |

    It was a scam by Richards to get the job you don’t get to run the search committee for ceo and pick yourself I’m sorry but I encourage fans to not watch jeopardy while Richards is hosting levar or ken would of been far better choices

  7. Tom Galloway | August 11, 2021 at 4:05 pm |

    I’m willing to believe LeVar got a fair edit because he himself said his wife told him he didn’t do well on his first show, and his comments after they aired amounted to “I think I could learn to do better if I get a chance”. At least as far as I saw, he didn’t bring up editing at all, even obliquely, and at least somewhat accepted that he hadn’t done a great job as host.

    • Picking a host isn’t easy. LeVar should’ve been given two weeks (instead of one) to get accustomed to the role.

      I think all these auditions were just a publicity stunt. I think Richard’s was going to pick himself BEFORE Alex passed away.

  8. I had hoped there might be some type of fan generated voting for a new host. Who else would have a better idea which host was rated the best? That Mike Roberts was chosen as the “best” smacks of some sort of sleazy insider dealing … and who better to instigate this but Roberts. This decision is tainted and will surely make me (a life long fan) much less likely to continue watching.

    • Exactly! Plus I swear Mike Richards said early on the fans would get to weigh in and yet that never happened. The second I saw that he was hosting I said to my roommate just watch he’s going to become the permanent host. What a snake.

  9. The guy has ZERO charisma, none.

    Alex Trebek had humor, grace, charisma, an unbelievable way with words and pronunciations.

    What an absolute joke to have this cardboard cut out host such an iconic show.

    • I couldn’t agree more and I am tired of people saying he tested great. First that is beside the point because he never should have been in contention to begin with and second he was as you described a cardboard cutout, bland – bland – bland. I feel like he smelled blood in the water when Alex announced he had cancer and I guess Mike got what he wanted to the detriment of the show, the fans and most importantly Alex Trebek.

  10. Has there been anything concrete said as to why it’s not Ken Jennings? Dick Cheneyism aside, what are we looking here? The supposedly controversial tweets, his commitment to The Chase, just not wanting it? Or is it just the “research and analysis” that somehow said otherwise?

    • Mike Richards was hellbent on getting the job for himself because nobody loves Mike Richards more than Mike Richards. That’s it.

    • Ken made some inane comment on Twitter, but no everyone is pretending there is nothing to see here which sucks because it would be great if someone opened their mouth like the G.O.A.T and actually blew this wide open.

  11. Nancy Miller | August 11, 2021 at 5:28 pm |

    I hated both of them and will not be watching Jeopardy any more. Too bad!

  12. Randy Skretvedt | August 11, 2021 at 5:32 pm |

    I wanted Ken Jennings and I’m not thrilled about Mike Richards being the host. It’s like someone inviting friends to a birthday party but taking all the cake for himself.

  13. PriceRight89 | August 11, 2021 at 5:54 pm |

    It shouldn’t surprise me that Mike would take advantage of Alex Trebek’s legacy like this, but it does. Looking back on LeVar Burton’s week and his ratings, it only makes sense that the show would set him up for those numbers. As long as Jeopardy! keeps hemorrhaging viewers to Family Feud, Mike will deserve the bed he sleeps on.

  14. Randy Skretvedt | August 11, 2021 at 7:39 pm |

    This just smells like the fix was in from the start.

    • Agreed. Mike smelled blood in the water when Alex announced he had cancer. And now I find out Mike Richards wanted to replace Bob Barker so there you go. I guess he finally got his wish. What a piece of garbage.

  15. Debbie Stover | August 11, 2021 at 10:41 pm |

    Smarmy, disingenuous, and dishonest — that’s the new Jeopardy host in a nutshell. The one thing I can’t figure out is how Sony fell for it. They surely did not believe this would be a popular decision, and it’s hard to believe they truly thought he was the best person for the job.

  16. Justin in Seattle | August 11, 2021 at 11:52 pm |

    IMHO, LeVar would really grow into the role given a little time. He was so great on Reading Rainbow, but was perhaps a little out of practice being in front of the camera since his retirement from that show. Scheduling Mr. Burton during the Olympics was setting him up for failure. I would have been a very happy camper if they picked LeVar for the main role, and Mayim for the specials.

    As it turns out, I’m not crazy about the guy they picked, but I’ll probably still watch the show — just not quite so consistently as in the past.

  17. Perhaps there might be an additional reason for bringing Mayim Bialik on board. Perhaps she’s a potential go-to for host of Jeopardy if Richards can’t shake the past, or becomes engulfed in another scandal(s), or if the ratings tank with him as host. It’s just a thought. I’ll still watch, if only to see how much I’ve forgotten (too much lately, I’m sorry to say).

    • Daniel E Rivera | August 12, 2021 at 10:19 am |

      I said this yesterday on Facebook and I’ll say it again here as well. The only way this arrangement works is with the understanding (though it wasn’t said publicly) that Bialik is going to be the one that carries the whole Jeopardy franchise in the long term. I have to believe Mike Richards is more of a transitional host from Trebek (which is a herculean task to be sure). Eventually, it’s going to be Mayim that takes over the whole franchise long term. As the saying goes, You don’t want to be the one to replace the legend, you want to be the one that replaces the guy who replaced the legend.

  18. I thought that Ken Jennings did an excellent job as guest host. In my mind there was no one better to host this iconic show. His on air presence and his history with jeopardy made him the leading candidate. I believe that the powers that be have made a huge mistake, but only time will tell. Executive producer and host of the show do not sit well with me. Everything eventually comes to an end and unfortunately we might be seeing the beginning of the end with this senseless choice.

  19. I liked almost all of the guest hosts, but this is just a crappy way of resolving a problem in public. If you are going to make it seem like an audition, make it a fair audition. He wasn’t my favorite guest host (although he was fine) but this sham of a process makes me dislike him a lot.

  20. I am really enjoying Joe Buck as the host (weird but true!)
    Well, I won’t watch anymore. It’s sad but Mike Richards was so annoying that I stopped watching when he was on. He reminded me of Kenny Bania (Seinfeld) it just was weird. It seemed fixed from the start. I am a very long time Jeopardy fan but I just cannot applaud a guy for stealing a job, and he’s a creep! They added Mayim just to relax people on his past. I don’t care for her but they should have given her the show.

  21. I give the selection committee (Richards) a 2 thumbs up on Mayim. I concur with the steady drumbeat of naysayers on Richards. His (much, much more than others) wrong answer Mantra of: “we were looking for” is akin to fingernails across a chalkboard. Most arrogant and below Burton on my list!

  22. Andy: Along the lines of your Dr. Oz snake oil T-shirt, you should design a comparable on that disparages Richard. I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  23. I don’t really care for Mike Richards.My choice would be Ken.Just my opinion.

  24. Marty Cunningham | August 12, 2021 at 2:43 pm |

    Wow! A lot to weigh in on!

    Personally, i still feel ambivalent about the host choices and prefer to let time bear out these decisions. And, in all honesty, i had no clear-cut favorite among the candidates who were seriously auditioning. Quite a few of them would have done well with more repetition but, equally important, none of them would ever be Alex, and i don’t think we would want that.
    Perhaps to offer some balance, it may help to remember when this iteration of Jeopardy! first began. After NBC cancelled the show in the 70’s, there was about a decade of occasional efforts to re-boot the show, but clearly none of them succeeded.
    When the new version began in 1984, i myself was a little skeptical of the new reboot. Alex had hosted several other game shows up to that point, but obviously none of them succeeded and, while there was no social media at the time, i do remember some backlash over him as host because he was “not Art Fleming.” Sony even re-ran Alex’s first few shows earlier this season, and there is a vast difference between those early shows and Alex’s last shows, some of which was due to technology, but also due to Alex’s personality then, and both he and the show grew and matured with time.
    For the fans who have said they will not watch while Richards is host, who are you really hurting? If viewership goes down, enough to possibly cancel the show (hard to imagine right now), it only hurts the contestants who have grown up with the show, and longed to be on for one game, and it hurts the crew who have worked for years on that show, really like a family, and a fairly functional one at that compared to other families.
    As Alex always said, he was not the star of the show (and he made sure he was never introduced that way), the contestants and facts are the stars, look at the recent ‘stardom’ of Matt Amodio, or Ken or Brad or James (who don’t even need last names to longtime fans).
    Time will tell what Mike Richards has learned from his past experiences on other game shows; we have over 35 years of Alex’s life to look at to see how he developed into a respected and beloved personality; let’s at least start by giving Mike 35 shows or 35 weeks to move in a positive direction.
    And, honestly, I think we have become spoiled. Alex, and Johnny Gilbert, have set Guinness World Records for their involvement with one show. We could have equally had 30 different hosts over the last 37 years, although that seems doubtful that the show would still even be on the air by now.
    Everyone who has expressed an opinion on this has done so out of passion for the show and what it represents. Everyone of the guest hosts expressed similar feelings about getting a chance to fill in for a bit, and also how much they respected Alex for how easy he made a difficult task look.
    To focus solely on the personality who reads the clues, is to lose sight of the heart and soul of the show; lovers of trivia striving for the truth, and maybe having some fun along the way. Maggie Speak, who had been a producer for many years, used to tell players in the green room, to “play YOUR game” – select the clues you want, in the way that you want, and don’t necessarily try to play like the current champ, you usually don’t win that way; i think the same advice holds whoever sits at the host lectern, not just the player podiums.
    Yes, i am now part of the closed set of over 17,000 people who got to play while Alex was host, but who knows, maybe there will be a new ‘product’ that i could take part in again. I remember in the early years that they had a ‘seniors’ tournament; well, enough time has passed that i would certainly love to be part of something like that again if that happens to be one of the new ‘gimmicks’ they try to introduce in the next few years.
    For now, let’s see how it goes and, if it really is not working, believe me, i will speak up on that, too.

    • ERIC JOHNSON | August 14, 2021 at 2:08 pm |

      Agree, the show is about the contestants and the clues. Television producers control the staffing decisions, viewers can vote with their remote controls.

  25. Jack Murray | August 12, 2021 at 3:46 pm |

    I liked Dr. Gupta and was surprised to really enjoy Joe Buck.

  26. Well said. I too have a wait and see attitude, that’s hoping for the best, rather than by not giving Mike a chance and by not watching Jeopardy!, making its demise a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hope Jeopardy! succeeds, not because Mike’s my first choice (or 2nd or even third), but because of the past 1,000’s and potential 1,000’s of wonderful contestants and the continued legacy of millions of viewers. I’m NOT saying the concerns lack merit, but I think over time they will work out. I believe this is best served going forward by relatively focusing less on the host and more on the contestants and game, now that NBC has made its choice.

    I and I’m sure every reader appreciates the great research and love for the show Andy puts into explaining the FJ Q’s & A’s, supplying the best game stats and analysis, and providing a forum for reader comments. To paraphrase Spock, may both Jeopardy! and The Jeopardy! Fan live long and prosper!

    • (This was meant in response to Marty Cunningham’s post)

    • Why should we give Mike Richards a chance when he completely left the fans out of it? Especially when he said we’d get to weigh in which never actually happened. If Mike Richards could care less what we think well than I don’t see why I should give him a chance at all. I refuse to reward him for bad behavior especially when the show and Alex mean so much to so many including me.

  27. Ronnie Gambardella | August 13, 2021 at 10:25 am |

    Neither one ws my first choice but I am perplexed as to why Burton is even in the discussion. In my opinion he was amongst the least excellent of all the trial hosts. And No…I’m not of the opinion he was set-up and sabotaged in some sort of elaborate corporate conspiracy.

    • The whole process was flawed. Some possible hosts only got one or two weeks. Ken got a 6 week tryout.

      I think that they should’ve given 10 possible hosts each a 4 week tryout. 4 weeks is enough time for the host to get comfortable and establish his/her style.

  28. Marty Cunningham | August 13, 2021 at 2:56 pm |

    Andy, thanks also for keeping this site running, especially during this last season, and for providing a forum for us to speak up about something that is so special to a large and growing fan base.

  29. Daniel E Rivera | August 13, 2021 at 10:16 pm |

    According to TMZ, we now know why Sony went the way they did when they decided on two hosts instead of one. It turns out that Mayim Bialik was the frontrunner since March when she guest hosted for two weeks. The only reason why she couldn’t commit full time to Jeopardy was because of her other commitments (i.e., Call me Kat on FOX, her podcast, etc). That’s why per TMZ, they decided to go with two hosts (Richards with the Regular version, and Bialik for the specials on ABC (i.e., the National College Championship in January). Sony executive Ravi Ahuja said in that TMZ report, when he said “we knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities.”, I have to believe that’s spin out of Sony right there.

    • I don’t believe a word of that report, for the record.

      It’s the same spin as “I just had to fill in so the show must go on” and then finding out later that it wasn’t true.

      As a we saw on a recent clue: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Isn’t TMZ the same outlet where Richards pretty blatantly planted pieces about what an amazing overnight sensation he was, and how he totally should get the permanent job?

        I’m not inclined to assume TMZ has much credibility at all here, when it comes to this issue.

  30. I remember Mike Richards from the Pyramid revival and he was awful.
    Also we don’t need to reward someone who was alleged to perpetuate a toxic work environment and sexual harassment when he produced The Price Is Right.
    I just can’t watch his smarmy disengaged delivery. Bye bye Jeopardy!

  31. Rosalie Dietz | August 16, 2021 at 11:27 am |

    The high ratings Jeopardy! always deserved will go down the drain quickly. What a pity! The “producers” of Jeopardy! have brought it on themselves. Perhaps the allegations about Richards & the investigation will end his career?

    • Let’s hope. Now with the news he will be both executive produce and host we may get that wish sooner than later. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t (with Alex while he was still with us) decide who would carry on the show instead of this goat rodeo that followed. I feel like Ellen has taken over Jeopardy! and I am not happy.

  32. Burton did not impress. And all the polls I ever saw all had Ken Jennings as the fav … he was my first choice, too.

  33. Mark Warner | August 18, 2021 at 7:56 pm |

    Is there a theory about why Ken Jennings didn’t get the host position? Did he not want it? Did he get offered it, but turned it down? Did he ask for too much money, and Sony balked? Did Sony decide that his past mistakes were too great? Did Sony actually think he wasn’t the best choice?

    If you answer that question, here is another. Is Jennings still affiliated with the show in an official capacity? Or has he be goned?

  34. ROBERT JURELLER | August 18, 2021 at 8:15 pm |

    I thought it was odd having the show’s producer as a guest host. He was stiff and a bit overbearing. And why bother having people such as Joe Buck, Aaron Rodgers and Savannah Guthrie for ‘tryouts’ since the show said that Jeopardy should be the new host’s sole job? Ken Jennings, Mayim Bialik and Levar Burton were excellent hosts. And it seemed that Buzzy Cohen was a better host than he was a contestant. Will Richards remove himself from the executive staff? I’ll continue to watch the show but it remains to be seen if I’ll enjoy it.

  35. After what we’re learning now, I’d take Dr. Oz over Mike Richards.

  36. I thought Miike Richards was a good pick for jeopardy host until I read the article in the Ringer. I am now disappointed as I believe he has a real character flaw. Of course no one is perfect but out of the heart the mouth will really speak. Thank you…

  37. This Mike Richard’s story gets worse and worse.
    On his podcast Richard’s called his cohost a “booth slut” and “booth ho”, asked her to show him her “boob” pictures on her phone, made insensitive comments about Jewish people and disparaged poor people and those on unemoyment and food stamps.
    He gave some flimsy non-apology but is this the legacy we want left behind of Alex Trebek.
    No way can I continue to watch the show when his hosting begins.
    Jeopardy is ruined.

    • PriceRight89 | August 19, 2021 at 6:06 pm |

      I’ve known Mike to be a creep since the Brandi Cochran lawsuit. The more I hear about him in the news, the more convinced I am that Sony never really looked into his troubled past. I never would have dreamed that this would be the direction Jeopardy! would take post-Alex.

  38. Robert Jureller | August 20, 2021 at 6:53 am |

    Additionally, Alex Trebek suggested that either Laura Coates or Alex Faust would be great as his replacement. They weren’t given a ‘tryout’ or a mention. What a shame and a sham.

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