Who Is The Man Getting Raves For Guest Hosting 'Jeopardy'? Meet The Show's Emmy Winning Executive Producer Mike Richards

Jeryl Brunner

On February 22 Mike Richards, the executive producer of "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune," took his place behind the lectern as the second guest host of "Jeopardy!" Beloved host Alex Trebek had passed away on November 8th.

Richards, who has produced over 4,000 hours of game show television, joins an impressive roster of future guest hosts including Dr. Mehmet Oz, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, and Mayim Bialik.

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Mike Richards (Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

A three time Emmy Award winner and 17-time nominee, Richards explained on the show last week that because of the pandemic, some guest hosts were reluctant to join the show just yet. So in the interest of "Jeopardy!," he stepped in at the last minute.

“I’m hosting today and for the next two weeks to keep the greatest quiz show in the world going. We have some amazing guest hosts coming, that I can’t wait for you to see. But with the Covid outbreak here in LA, folks were understandably a little reticent to shoot,” said Richards who also has spent a respectable amount of time in front of the camera. “...as the producer my job is to quite literally live the mantra: the show must go on.”

A stand-up comedian right out of college, he has worked on several pilots. Richards hosted the WB's "High School Reunion" and reality sensation "Beauty and the Geek" for the CW. He was on the movie news show "Dailes" and also hosted the 2012 revival of "The Pyramid" on the Game Show Network.

With Richards at the lectern "Jeopardy!" is not just going on, but thriving. He is a certified hit with "Jeopardy!" fans around the world. The Twitterspear is aglow with reviews like “He is perfect for the job.” And “I love Mike Richards. Be still my heart!” And “No one will replace Alex. But Mike is the next best thing.”

Richards, who has been a fan of "Jeopardy!" since he was ten years old and even tried to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica to prep to be on it some day, continues to wow us with his graciousness. “It has been the honor of my life. I felt even closer to the contestants than usual," said Richards about guest hosting "Jeopardy!"

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult year here. But we’ve chosen to celebrate our hero, Alex Trebek. Working with Alex was even better than you could’ve imagined. His intensity for this show, his humor, his kindness, but most impressively, his love for his wife, Jean, and his kids. He was everything you could hope for and more," said Richards last week during the show. "He was everything you could hope for and more. He was an idol of mine, and I will work every day to try to live up to the example he set.” Before offering the first round of categories, he added, “This is for you, Alex.”

Mike Richards shared more.

Can you talk about your first day working at "Jeopardy!"?

Mike Richards: My first day as executive producer was in the middle of the shutdown due to the pandemic, so everything was already upside down and this incredible staff never missed a beat. They were doing everything they could do to get back into production. Even Alex was calling me saying that he wanted to be the first show back in the studio and, as it turns out, we were close to that.

What qualities did Alex have that you adored?

Mike Richards: Alex had a lot of qualities I adored. The one I admired most was his humility. He was a huge TV star, larger than life. He never acted like it. He said the contestants are the stars of the show and he meant it.

There is a sweet story that once you said you wanted to be on Jeopardy! your mother got a subscription to The Wall Street Journal. What do you remember about watching the show when you were a boy?

Mike Richards: As a kid I remember Alex and the mustache. His voice was so good and familiar. My emotions towards the show haven’t changed. I am still as blown away by the contestants as I was then. It made me have that craving to be smart. Of course, I tried to figure out the clues, but as a kid, it is really tough. I love watching my kids get one or two right in an episode that directly relates to something they learned in school. It validates their hard work.

What advice can you offer people who would like to be contestants?

Mike Richards: The best way to do well on "Jeopardy!" is to read and read and read and then watch a lot of episodes. I also think flash cards are a good way to work on particular subjects you know you need work on. It speeds up your recall. And take the Anytime Test. There are so many people out there that have what it takes to be a contestant, but we don’t know because they haven’t taken that first step.

I love how you have paid tribute and honored Alex in such beautiful ways like working with his son to donate his wardrobe to help those looking for a job. What do you remember about the last times you saw or talked to Alex?

Mike Richards: I can remember where I was exactly when we spoke. We were talking about the show and he transitioned to talking about the impact of COVID-19. He called it a challenge to humanity. He wanted to know how not getting to go to school was affecting my children. He genuinely cared about my kids but also all children. Keep in mind he was very close to the end of his life. Amazing.

What do you miss most about Alex Trebek?

Mike Richards: I miss so many things it is hard to describe. I miss his calm reassuring nature. I miss his stories. I miss his humor and trying to make him laugh. I miss seeing him walk out at the top of the show and take command. SO many things!

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

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