‘Jeopardy’ producer on guest hosts and who will replace Alex Trebek

It’s been six weeks since Alex Trebek’s final episode of “Jeopardy!,” certainly one of TV’s top-rated recreation reveals. So what occurs subsequent?”Greatest of All Time” champion Ken Jennings accomplished his six-week internet hosting gig on Friday, the primary to following Trebek’s dying in November of pancreatic most cancers. Starting Monday, government producer Mike Richards steps behind the lectern for 2 weeks’ value of episodes, to be adopted by the primary group of movie star guest hosts. Former “Today” and “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric takes a flip beginning March 8, adopted by Dr. Mehmet Oz on March 22. Green Bay Packers quarterback (and 2015 “Celebrity Jeopardy!” champion) Aaron Rodgers fills in on April 5. Each will have a two-week stint, and taped their 10 episodes over two days in January. Future guest hosts embody CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, “Today” host Savannah Guthrie, neurosurgeon and CNN medical adviser Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and Mayim Bialik, who at present stars in Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat.”   Some of those hosts will be thought of for the everlasting slot, however “Jeopardy!” will take its time, and might not replace Trebek till the show begins its thirty eighth season in syndication in September. The problem is to plan for the long run, for the reason that show’s longevity is not doubtful: “Let’s be certain that we get somebody we’re going to really feel even higher about in a decade than we do that 12 months,” Richards says.   Richards, 45, who joined the show final summer season, solutions our burning questions on what’s subsequent. (Answers edited for size and readability). Question: You’ve hosted recreation reveals earlier than (“Beauty and the Geek,” “Pyramid”), however what’s it been like following Alex on this one, because you’re additionally a producer?Mike Richards: In some methods it’s simpler for me, as a result of I’m an government producer. So if I didn’t like the best way (a clue) was written I may get mad at me. Once I used to be capable of get (previous) the enormity of the person who stood behind the lectern for the higher a part of 4 a long time … it was very enjoyable.  But at each business break, as I stepped again, I might consider Alex, who he was, how nice he was, and it was simple to get in your head that method.I didn’t know I used to be going to be doing it till three days earlier than, and so I had not ready myself to host in the best way that I do know different guest hosts are. So there was simply lots to unpack. Plus, I additionally solely owned one swimsuit, so there was a bit little bit of scrambling there. It was very enjoyable; humbling doesn’t start to explain the sensation. It hit me like a ton of bricks when Johnny Gilbert introduced my title. That’s in fact the very last thing you hear if you begin to stroll out. … and it was overwhelming within the second.Q: It appears an inconceivable job to replace Alex the week after his closing reveals, however how do you suppose Ken did?Richards: Ken did an incredible job, that’s why we picked him to do it. He did higher than I assumed, and my expectations had been extremely excessive. I feel he was the proper particular person to return onto the stage after Alex. Our followers, our workers and crew are all accustomed to him. He got here out, mentioned the appropriate issues, was humbled by the state of affairs, addressed the elephant within the room straight away and mentioned nobody’s going to replace Alex, and they’re not. It’s a idiot’s errand.Ken hosted the show as Ken. And what you’ll see with all of the guest hosts is that they’re not distracting from the sport; they pay homage to Alex, however they’re additionally attending to show their distinctive skills inside these confines. And they’re very strict confines: 61 clues in 22 minutes will by no means be achieved once more on tv, and it’s a part of its magnificence. I’m pleased with Ken as a result of I do know he was very nervous, but in addition very up for it.Q: Will he be thought of as a everlasting alternative?Richards: Yes, completely. I feel we need to have a look at everybody.Q: How did you decide the opposite guest hosts, and are a lot of them are competing for the job?Richards: Dr. Oz is somebody who was very near Alex. There are folks simply form of in the orbit that I knew really feel very strongly about stepping in, to not check out for the function however to honor Alex. This will not be a bunch competitors. This is folks who love this recreation, and their respect for Alex is off the charts. That’s how we went about it: Who would really feel a connection? Who has the distinctive skills? Because it’s so exhausting to host the show, as I can inform you having hosted 5 sequence myself. Each particular person brings their very own intense love for the sport. Aaron Rodgers loves that recreation at a visceral degree.Q: Any sense of if you wish to settle on a everlasting alternative? Would that be somebody you’d introduce subsequent season?  Richards: Perhaps sooner. We’re going to take a look at the guest hosts, we need to see how the neighborhood reacts, how folks really feel. I felt it was crucial to not select somebody straight away, as a result of we’re all nonetheless mourning Alex, all of us nonetheless miss him. Whoever we put in that function would have been in an unwinnable struggle, in order that’s the explanation for the path that we’ve taken. My guess is it’s going to be the top of this season or the summer season once we’re going to make that announcement. That resolution hasn’t been made. It’s not like I’ve bought the particular person and I’m simply holding them again. We’re legitimately a few of these (guest hosts), and a few of them are simply there for charity and to show their love of the sport. (“Jeopardy!” will match contestants’ winnings and donates them to the charity of the movie star hosts’ selecting.)Q: Is there a particular high quality you’re on the lookout for in a everlasting host?Richards: The qualities are issues I had talked to Alex about. Alex Trebek was not a family title when he began the show (in 1984), however the qualities that made him so excellent for it had been that he had voice, that he had an extremely fast thoughts that may be the arbiter of the sport, (as a result of) the host is the preliminary decide. You should be credible if you give the response. Would you’ve really identified that? Also, you’ve bought to have the ability to do the pronunciations. And there was a component of Alex pulling very exhausting for the contestants. He wasn’t making an attempt to show them up. He wasn’t making an attempt to be the neatest man on the stage though it may need been Alex, though he would have denied that and hated that I mentioned that. The capacity to be humorous and get one thing out of these (contestant) interviews is essential. And in some ways, Alex was such a centrist: He didn’t spark debate and was not controversial in any method. Alex was a star, and turned a star and turned bigger than life, however not as a result of he was making an attempt to be. And that’s a really totally different factor from different recreation reveals. Alec Baldwin has to go on and be a celebrity, and “Match Game” calls for it. You should have on “Jeopardy!” somebody who’s bigger than life, but in addition humble in the identical method that isn’t going to make the sport about them, in any method.Q: That would appear to argue towards hiring a well known movie star. Richards: That’s why it’s essential to see folks do it, since you would possibly assume some folks would (steal the highlight) and you then see them in that spot and they’d be nice.Q: Are you skipping the same old champions, school, teen and movie star tournaments?Richards: Because of journey restrictions, we’ve got been very, very restricted in what we are able to do. And tournaments specifically actually require nationwide casting. In phrases of the Tournament of Champions, I’m actually pushing to get it achieved this season. As for the others, this 12 months will be a pause. Q: What would you want followers to know as they watch these subsequent a number of weeks of reveals?Richards: “Jeopardy!” is about inclusion, and it’s a respite from what’s occurring within the exterior world. As you watch guest hosts come via, you would possibly like some, you won’t like some others. Let’s be that welcoming “Jeopardy!” neighborhood. Let us know what you suppose, however let’s all be variety and open. Because in the long run, that’s what “Jeopardy!” is and that’s what Alex was, and that’s the best way all of us ought to behave.
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