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Following the devastating loss of world-renowned trivia host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! began searching for a new host to fill the role.
Before his passing, Trebek had jokingly suggested Betty White as his replacement. But, eventually, an executive producer for Jeopardy! and a former executive producer for The Price Is Right was brought in as the official pick.
The new host, Mike Richards, only made it nine days as host before he quit following renewed publicity around his past misconduct and lawsuits.
Richards’ decision to step away from the role as host, but remain as an executive producer, came after his past lawsuits from work on The Price Is Right along with offensive jokes made on a podcast were brought up in the media.
A video uploaded by ABC News in February titled “Jeopardy interim host scores rave reviews” seemingly details that many loved Richards…but newly published articles say differently.
Clair McNear with The Ringer wrote an article about the misconduct allegations against Richards and detailed the remarks he made on a podcast called The Randumb.
In it, she describes how all episodes of the podcast were scrubbed from the hosting site just hours after the publication had asked for comment on the show from Sony Pictures Television and his agent.
— Claire McNear (@clairemcnear) August 18, 2021
She then quotes one of the comments and links an audio blurb where Richards asks inappropriate questions to his female co-hosts about their breasts and nude photographs.
The comments he made on the show spiral downward from there adding insults, mean-spirited remarks, and even some phrases that could be seen as anti-Semitic.
“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,” Richards said to The Ringer in a statement.
His lawsuits, from the time spent with The Price Is Right, paint a similar but darker picture.
Cinthia Littleton from Variety summarizes the lawsuits perfectly: “In 2010 and 2011, multiple models working on “Price Is Right” accused Richards and others of discriminating against them for becoming pregnant while working on the show. He was accused of making disparaging remarks about some of the women and for taking steps to freeze them out of the series.”
Because of all this blowback within a fortnight of Richards being announced as the new host, he has voluntarily left the show – quitting in hopes that it will not stand in the way of the show’s success. And as an executive producer, it’s highly likely the show’s success is directly tied to his pay.
Sony Pictures Television has stated that they were not aware of the podcast’s existence until the piece by McNear was published – and says that they “hope that as EP he will continue to [lead Jeopardy!] with professionalism and respect.”
Mike Richards’ full statement is below. The search has begun again for a host to take over from the incredible legacy left by Trebek.
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.
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