Veteran game show EP (“The Price is Right”, “Let’s Make a Deal”, “Wheel of Fortune”, “Chain Reaction”) and host (“The Pyramid”, “Divided”) Mike Richards will now executive produce AND host the daytime edition of “Jeopardy!” Richards, who also hosted The CW’s “Beauty and the Geek” and Reelz Channel’s entertainment news program “Dailies” will take over for the late Alex Trebek in the syndicated version of the iconic game show next month.
In a surprise twist: actress Mayim Bialik has also been named “Jeopardy!” host… for all primetime special editions and future spinoffs. Bialik (best known for “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory”) had an excellent two-week run during the guest host trial period earlier this summer. Many online campaigned for her to become the permanent daily host. But giving her primetime opportunities actually makes a lot of sense.
Last TV season, Bialik starred in the new FOX sitcom “Call Me Kat”, which the network renewed for Season 2 in May. She still wants to continue starring on that show (which will return in midseason). So not forcing Bialik into taping 230 episodes of “Jeopardy!” a year will allow her to continue focusing on “CMK”.
The first major “Jeopardy!” special edition that’s been revealed is a National College Championship Bialik will host on ABC next year. The fact that Sony (which produces “Jeopardy!”) and ABC are committed to Bialik and future “Jeopardy!” installments is very interesting but not surprising.
ABC was selected as the network to air the “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All-Time” special series in January 2020 because ABC’s affiliate stations in major cities, including New York and Los Angeles (and my neck of the woods, Albany, NY) air “Jeopardy!” nightly. The four “GOAT” episodes with Trebek, Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter averaged 14.6 million viewers (peaking with 15.6M on Night 3).
This was a classic case of “event television” that had the whole country talking for weeks. ABC immediately went looking for their next game show idea they could turn into event television. The first season of Jimmy Kimmel-hosted celebrity edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” premiered on April 8, 2020 (right after the “Modern Family” series finale) to a solid 6.2 million viewers. It averaged 5.7M over its nine episodes in the early days of the pandemic, often winning the Network TV Thursday night lineup.
The next idea: having Jennings, Holzhauer and Rutter return to ABC in primetime. The network came-up with a revival of hit Game Show Network series “The Chase”. Now in its second season, it also features the star of the GSN version, Mark “The Beast” Labbett.
ABC continues to be thoroughly invested in game show content. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” with Pat Sajak & Vanna White was a major success earlier this year and will be back for Season 2 on Sunday nights beginning next month. Another season of “Supermarket Sweep” is also on the way, as “Celebrity Family Feud”, “The $100,000 Pyramid”, “Press Your Luck”, “The Hustler” and “To Tell the Truth” continue to succeed during the summer months.
Now with this “Jeopardy!” news, ABC is very much in the game show mindframe for the long haul, with the hopes of capturing (close to) the same ratings magic of “The Greatest of All-Time”, even without “Jeopardy!”’s forever G.O.A.T. behind the lectern.