Mike Richards steps down as the host of “Jeopardy!” amid the backlash and controversy of the past

Mike Richards was released as “Jeopardy!” host, just nine days after being chosen to succeed legendary Alex Trebek as the face of the beloved quiz show.

Richards, who is also executive producer of “Jeopardy! He will remain the executive producer of the series.

Sony Pictures TV confirmed on Friday that Richards had agreed to step down as host. In a statement, Richards said the backlash created “too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right decision for the show.”

Richards’ hasty exit as host came a day after the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation after a report surfaced in The Ringer that Richards made derogatory remarks about Jews, women and other groups in episodes of the comedy podcast “The Randumb Show” recorded in 2013 and 2014.

In the end, Sony concluded that Richards’ image was too damaged for him to take the helm of one of the most prestigious and popular TV brands. The irony is that the studio moved in his favor because he was seen as a neutral personality rather than an established name that could eclipse the series and its famous rapid-fire format, answers in the form of a question.

“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony Pictures TV said. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he has used in the past. We told him about our concerns and our expectations for the future. “

But the studio has also expressed support for him to stay in his role as executive producer. A new guest host series will be used to record episodes to kick off the show’s 38th year of syndication next month. Richards began his first day of recording as a permanent host on August 19, which turned out to be his last day in the role.

“Mike has been with us for two years and led the team at ‘Jeopardy!’ through the most difficult time the show has ever seen. We hope that as an EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect, ”said Sony.

Sony has learned the hard way how America loves “Jeopardy!” The search for the host to follow in the footsteps of Trebek, who died last November at the age of 80, was a long series of hosts invited by such figures as Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr Mehmet Oz, Ken Jennings, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Rodgers and former contestant Buzzy Cohen.

When Richards was named permanent successor, the voice “Jeopardy!” fans have complained loudly on social media that the fix came from Richards. Every detail of the behind-the-scenes selection process was examined at the level of a Supreme Court appointment. Internet-fueled speculation has proliferated about Richards’ ability to sabotage other hosts by editing episodes to make them look bad. There was outrage that Richards, as executive producer, had the final say on episodes hosted by guests sent for focus group testing. Richards added fuel to the fire with more than a few examples of sophomoric behavior that got him seen by the “Jeopardy!” faithful as unfit to follow Trebek behind the podium.

Sony was taken aback by the news of Richards’ past podcast work and the edgy comments that fueled more outrage against his selection as host. A source familiar with the situation said there were concerns that Richards was cavalier enough to use such language and attitude towards women in a podcast public forum, even after being involved in two discrimination lawsuits for a few years. previously.

In 2010 and 2011, several models working on “Price Is Right” accused Richards and others of discriminating against them for getting pregnant while working on the show. He has been accused of making derogatory remarks about certain women and taking steps to exclude them from the show. Richards released a statement last week challenging the characterization in the lawsuit as “not who I am”.

Richards’ role as executive producer can get awkward as Sony begins to search for a host again, as his desire for the job has been made clear.

Richards was appointed permanent host on August 11, six days after Variety announced he was in advanced negotiations for the coveted position. At the same time, Sony Pictures named Bialik, who was a fan favorite during the guest host race that started in January, as the host of “Jeopardy!” prime-time specials and a spin-off series.

It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we seek to start a new chapter.

As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to have been invited to host the syndicated show and was delighted with the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the past few 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 from my host position with immediate effect. As a result, we will cancel production today.

SPT will now resume the search for a permanent unionized host. In the meantime, we’ll 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 all of you for the unwanted negative attention that has been paid to Jeopardy! over the past few weeks and for the confusion and delays it is causing now. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.

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