Wayne Brady has weighed in on the ongoing debate over who should succeed Alex Trebek as the next “Jeopardy!” host. The 49-year-old has his own experiences with game shows, serving as the host of “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Game of Talents.”
UPDATE: Sony has announced “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards as the permanent host of the show, first reported by The Daily Beast. Mayim Bialik will host primetime and spin-off specials.
“I think that LeVar Burton would be an amazing host because he’s proven already in just the short run that he’s done that he has what it takes,” he told Heavy. “I think not only does he have the gravitas, but America loves and trusts him.”
Brady is not alone in his support. A Change.org petition calling for Burton to be the next “Jeopardy!” host has more than 267,000 signatures.
The “Masked Singer” winner added that “Multiple generations know LeVar” thanks to his work on “Roots,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow.”
“So he’s a part of Americana and I think in this day and time, it’s wonderful to see another person of color inhabit a show that is predicated on knowledge,” Brady added. “So that’s another piece that balances out other forms of entertainment. To see LeVar at the helm of that ship would make me very happy.”
Burton finally had his turn behind the podium, serving as a guest-host for the week of July 26 through July 30, 2021. According to The Wrap, he had the lowest ratings of any guest host, though his week coincided with the Tokyo Olympics.
The “Whose Line Is It Anyway” host spoke with Heavy while promoting the “#putapriceonit” campaign for USAA. The campaign centers on self-worth and never undervaluing it, even when facing adversity.
Brady hosted virtual conversations on the topic through his social media. As he told Heavy, “We use USAA to insure your belongings and take care of your things … You take such good care of your things, a sense of value to your things. You have to pay attention to your own self-worth because you are your greatest possession.”
He added, “I came from a military family, but when I made the decision to act I had to determine my own worth,” and how it related to creativity rather than following in his father’s footsteps. “Once I decided to do that, then how much am I worth?”
Mike Richards in Talks to Become ‘Jeopardy!’ Host
The day after Brady spoke with Heavy, Variety reported that Mike Richards is primed to become the permanent host of “Jeopardy!”
Richards is currently an executive producer on the show and served as a guest host from February 22 through March 5, 2021. According to The Wrap, he earned the second-highest rating behind Ken Jennings.
He referenced the rumors in an internal memo to staff, shared by TVLine. In it, he wrote, “It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show. I was humbled and deeply honored. No final decisions have been made and discussions with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing.”
Richards also previously hosted “The Pyramid” and “Divide.”
In the email, he addressed recently resurfaced claims published by The Daily Beast that he discriminated against pregnant models on “The Price is Right.”
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago. These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right. I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”
Brady made no mention of Richards while speaking with Heavy, though the two previously worked together on “Let’s Make a Deal.” Richards served as an executive producer on the show until 2018.
Burton Responded to the New Hosting Rumors
Burton took to Twitter the day after Variety reported Richards was the likely next “Jeopardy!” host. “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” he wrote. “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.”
Still, Burton has made no secret that he would love the job.
As he told The New York Times, “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching ‘Jeopardy!’ more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. ‘Jeopardy!’ is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant.”
He referenced his long career – which includes winning the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2000 and multiple Daytime Emmy Awards for “Reading Rainbow” – before adding, “I’m a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There’s a contest, there’s comedy, there’s drama. If you don’t know your [expletive] on ‘Jeopardy!’ you’re sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that.”
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