Jeopardy! officially has official new hosts following the death of its longtime helmer, Alex Trebek, who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2020, at the age of 80. The new full-time host of the daily syndicated program is Mike Richards, Sony Pictures Television announced on August 11. The Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will be the host of primetime and spinoff series.
“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s favorite quiz show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of Jeopardy!,” Ravi Ahuja, chairman of global television studios and corporate development for Sony Pictures, said in a statement. “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show – deservedly so because it’s Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers.”
Mayim is joining the Jeopardy! family as the host of Jeopardy!’s primetime series and spinoffs, including the all-new Jeopardy! National College Championship, which is set to air on ABC next year. The studio is looking to extend the Jeopardy! franchise to new platforms.
The announcement comes following the death of Alex Trebek, who led the series as host for nearly three decades. Alex, an icon of the game show world as well as pop culture, had been fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly two years by the time he passed away in November 2020. Many fans learned the news of Alex’s passing from the official Jeopardy! Twitter account. “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the November 8 statement read.
Alex’s final day in the studio was on October 29, and his final episode was scheduled to air on Christmas Day, December 25, 2020. “He was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years,” Mike Richards, Executive Producer of Jeopardy!, shared in a statement. “Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host Jeopardy! was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever,”
The entire world was rocked by the loss of Alex, who began hosting Jeopardy! in 1984. Legions of longtime fans and famous mourners paid tribute to the Jeopardy! host on social media. “Alex Trebek was kind enough to film a cameo for our film Free Guy last year despite his battle,” actor Ryan Reynolds tweeted on November 8. “He was gracious and funny. In addition to being curious, stalwart, generous, reassuring and of course, Canadian. We love you, Alex. And always will.”
Since his passing, Jeopardy! has seen several guest hosts show off their skills during episodes of the beloved game show. They’ve included Mike, Mayim, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, journalist Katie Couric, talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker for the first three months. Other hosts that followed included Today‘s Savannah Guthrie, neurosurgeon and CNN medical adviser Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Star Trek, and Reading Rainbow star LeVar Burton, Good Morning America anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, author and CNBC host David Faber, and sportscaster Joe Buck.
As it would happen, Alex previously revealed who he would have loved to see replace him as host one day. “I joke with the audience all the time and I say, ‘Betty White,’ because they want somebody younger, somebody funnier,” he joked during his July 21, 2020 interview with Good Morning America. Along with facetiously offering his pick for a replacement, Alex revealed what being the host of Jeopardy! and working with the crew, contestants, and developing a relationship with the fans had meant to him.
“They are the most important elements in my life outside of my family and friends,” he said of his steadfast fans and Jeopardy! viewers. “Because they have expressed their feelings about me in so many positive ways that I can’t help but be touched by what they have to say and by what I mean to them. It’s humbling. It’s nice to be humbled.”