In just under two weeks, Mike Richards went from heir apparent to pariah. Ousted as successor to Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!, Richards has now been fully terminated from his duties as a producer on both the quiz show and Wheel of Fortune. This comes after controversy followed the man who led the search for Trebek’s replacement, a role he essentially bestowed upon himself. In the wake of his announcement as host, details came to light surrounding past lawsuits and questionable comments he made on a podcast.
Suzanne Prete, executive vice president, business and strategy, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! released the following statement on Tuesday:
I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately. We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened.
Michael Davies from Embassy Row has agreed to help with production on an interim basis until further notice. Michael and I will work together with all of you in the weeks ahead to ensure that production remains on schedule and we do not miss a beat as we head into the new season.
I know this has been a challenging time for the entire team, and I want to thank you all for your cooperation and professionalism over these last few weeks. As Ravi mentioned last week, I will be more involved in the day-to-day on our shows moving forward and I am looking forward to working closely with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.
Who would’ve thought a show like Jeopardy! could generate so much drama. Just days after being announced as the new host of the game show following the passing of Alex Trebek, Mike Richards is stepping down from the position amid multiple controversies from his past emerging.
Richards announced his exit as host just moments ago in an internal memo. A search for a permanent host will continue with guest hosts stepping in until a final choice is made. You can check out the internal memo below!
It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter.
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.
SPT 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.
The new season of Jeopardy! started filming on Thursday with Richards as host but I imagine this will be re-taped with a guest host filling in. The writing was on the wall for this to happen as Richards’ past comments began to come back to haunt him when it was first becoming clear that he would be stepping in as the new host of the show. The move follows a report by The Ringer on Wednesday resurfacing derogatory comments made by Richards on his podcast The Randumb Show in 2013-14, including mocking women’s weight, calling one model a “booth slut” and repeatedly praised “the average white-guy host.” It was due to this that the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into Richard’s comments. After his comments were brought to the attention of the media, Richards apologized for what he said in the following statement:
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”
There was also considerable backlash after the initial decision was made to make Richards the new host. Given the fact that he’s also the show’s executive producer, it seemed to be a left-field choice to most fans after a plethora of better-known talents guest-hosted the show since the passing of late host Alex Trebek. The first sign that Richards had some skeletons in his closet came out when it was clear he was going to take over the position. Pretty much during the same news cycle, the fact emerged that Richards was previously also the subject of a discrimination bias lawsuit during his time as executive producer of The Price Is Right. When Richards was announced, Sony also confirmed that Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will serve as the host of Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series and this decision is still in place. It also appears that Richards will be keeping his post as an executive producer despite stepping down as the new host of the show.
What are YOUR thoughts on Mike Richards stepping down as host of Jeopardy!?