Jeopardy! is reportedly in final negotiations with a permanent host and it’s not LeVar Burton.
Mike Richards, the trivia show’s executive producer, is the frontrunner to replace longtime host Alex Trebek who died in 2020, Variety reported Wednesday.
The news that producer Sony Pictures Television was in advanced talks with Richards caught many fans by surprise, especially those who have been lobbying for Burton to get the job.
The Roots actor and former Reading Room host served as a fill-in at the helm of Jeopardy! after his fans launched a Change.org petition in November for him to fill Trebek’s shoes.
“Between hosting 21 seasons of the educational Reading Rainbow, playing the brainiac engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: the Next Generation, and filling the roll of Kunta Kinte in the ever important miniseries Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds,” the petition says.
Other guest hosts included Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers, actress Mayim Bialik, TV news anchor Katie Couric, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Mike Richards. The Variety report said Richards impressed Jeopardy! executives “with his command of the fast-paced game and easy on-air manner.”
Once the story got out that Richards is close to being named host, Burton’s fans expressed anger Wednesday night on social media.
“Although everyone wanted LeVar Burton to be the permanent host of Jeopardy!, this generic looking white man appointed himself instead. Who is Jeopardy! executive producer, Mike Richards?” tweeted comedian and actor Gabe Sanchez.
Although everyone wanted LeVar Burton to be the permanent host of “Jeopardy!”, this generic looking white man appointed himself instead.
Who is “Jeopardy!” executive producer, Mike Richards? ? pic.twitter.com/un4KWxHwMg
— Gabe Sanchez ? (@iamgabesanchez) August 5, 2021
“You have to work twice as hard to get half as much and even then, it doesn’t always happen. #LevarBurton and #MayimBialik were robbed,” added New York journalist
Dave Jordan on Twitter.
“Months of guest hosting from the likes of @levarburton and @katiecouric… all to pick the show’s current executive producer? I’ll take Pulling a Dick Cheney for $100, Alex,” tweeted MSNBC contributor Melissa Murray.
“So not Levar Burton, or Mayim Bialik, or Anderson Cooper, or Dr. Sanjay Gupta, or Robin Roberts, or even Ken Jennings, but the executive producer of Jeopardy who gave himself a guest hosting gig. I wish I could say I’m surprised,” added Twitter user @Notacatatall.
Richards previously hosted The Pyramid and Divided on the Game Show Network. He became an executive producer on Jeopardy! in 2020.
Alex Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 37 seasons, from 1984 until 2020. He died at age 80 on Nov. 8, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.