Richards — who is the executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” — was the second person to fill in as guest host, following “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” champion Ken Jennings’ six-week run.
Although a Sony Pictures representative told Variety that discussions remain ongoing with several potential candidates, Variety has reported that Richards is the front-runner for the position. Deadline reported that Sony Pictures Television will likely make an official announcement sometime in the next few days.
Richards served as “Jeopardy!” guest host for two weeks, filling in somewhat last minute as Jennings had to step down because of his obligations with the game show “The Chase” — a show that also features “Jeopardy!” giants James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, the Deseret News reported.
“I didn’t know I was going to be doing it until three days before, and so I had not prepared myself to host in the way that I know other guest hosts are,” Richards told USA Today at the time. “So there was just a lot to unpack. Plus, I also only owned one suit, so there was a little bit of scrambling there.”
Stepping into the role, Richards frequently paid tribute to Trebek, who helmed “Jeopardy!” for 36 years.
“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult year here. But we’ve chosen to celebrate our hero, Alex Trebek,” Richards said during his second episode as host. “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. He was an idol of mine, and I will work every day to try to live up to the example he set.”
Richards’ time as guest host was fairly well received by viewers — in terms of ratings, he ranks second out of all the guest hosts. First is Jennings, who drew in an average of 10.3 million viewers during the first week as host, second this season only to Trebek’s final week, the Deseret News reported.
Jennings, who is a consulting producer for “Jeopardy!” this season, said earlier this year that he hoped to “get another chance” to host, the Deseret News reported. Richards also told USA Today that Jennings was “absolutely” being considered for the full-time gig.
Burton was a popular choice among “Jeopardy!” fans — a petition to make the actor the host climbed to more than 260,000 signatures. After reports that Richards would likely become the permanent host, Burton expressed gratitude for his fans.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” the actor wrote on Twitter Thursday. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”
I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) August 5, 2021
Currently, financial journalist David Faber is guest hosting “Jeopardy!” through Aug. 6. Sportscaster Joe Buck will then conclude the 37th season as the final guest host from Aug. 9 through Aug. 13.
Since Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer in November 2020, Richards has been adamant that the show would not take the decision to replace Trebek lightly.
”Let’s make sure we get someone we are going to feel even better about in a decade than we do this year,” he told USA Today.