Mike Richards steps down as 'Jeopardy!' host 'effective immediately'
He made the announcement in a note to staffers on Friday, Yahoo Entertainment can confirm.
"It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter," his note to staff began.
"As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today.
"[Sony Pictures Television] will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host. In the meantime, we will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season, details of which will be announced next week.
"I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."
Richards, who serves as the show’s executive producer, was behind the search to replace Alex Trebek in the syndicated show. After auditioning a series of guest hosts, he was picked for the job (or picked himself, as some have suggested) while Mayim Bialik was selected to host prime-time specials.
His first day as host was Thursday. In an interesting twist, the five episodes that taped in that first day will air as scheduled starting Sept. 13. However, guest hosts will then fill in while the search for a new permanent host takes place.
Richards will also stay on as executive producer of the show.
A Sony Pictures Television spokesperson said in a statement, "We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike's 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.
"Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect."
Earlier this month, as Richards' deal for the host job was being hammered out — which fans of the show weren't keen on in the first place — workplace discrimination lawsuits were surfaced from when Richards was a co-executive producer on The Price Is Right in the 2010s. He denied the alleged pregnancy discrimination and other workplace abuse, telling Jeopardy! staff that the allegations do not "reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together."
And then just days ago, after the announcement that he would host, The Ringer reported he "repeatedly used offensive language and disparaged women's bodies" in resurfaced episodes of the podcast The Randumb Show, which he hosted from 2013 to 2014. The podcast was a behind-the-scenes look at The Price Is Right, and in it, he repeatedly used offensive language while discussing and criticizing women's bodies. He also spoke in an offensive way about Jewish people and Asians, and used the R-word. The podcast was deleted and he apologized for his "thoughtlessness" and "insensitivity."
On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into his "disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians."
New “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards' disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter.
Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm.
This reported pattern warrants an investigation. https://t.co/0D8D7441vU
— ADL (@ADL) August 19, 2021