Just nine days after being named the permanent new host of veteran syndicated game show Jeopardy!, Mike Richards has stepped down from his on-camera role.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” Richard said in a statement. “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,” he continued. “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 has come under fire in recent days for the sexist, anti-Semitic and racist comments he made on a podcast called The Randumb Show, which he hosted from 2013 to 2014, that recently resurfaced.
Richards, 46, reportedly was supposed to begin filming yesterday, the same day the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into past derogatory comments he made about women, minorities and people with mental disabilities, among other subjects.
“New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards’ disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter,” the organization tweeted yesterday. “Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation.”
In an apology, Richards said that it was “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,” he stated. “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 was also a defendant in a discrimination complaint during his time as the executive producer of The Price is Right.
This past season, of course, Sony Pictures Television opted to temporarily fill the beloved Alex Trek’s hosting role with a parade of guest hosts that, in addition to Richards, included Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen,Katie Couric, Dr. Mehmet Oz, NFL great Aaron Rodgers, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker, actress Mayim Bialik, the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie, Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, LeVar Burton, CNBC’s David Faber, and Fox sportscaster Joe Buck.
For some, it was a simple novelty; a notch on an already impressive resume. For others, it was an audition to be named permanent host. And for Mike Richards, the producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (and formerly The Price Is Right and Let’s Make a Deal), it was a potential role that many had already felt was determined before Ken Jennings stepped in as the first guest host.
In a surprise move, Mayim Bailik was also announced as the host of special editions of Jeopardy! And, as the next array of guest hosts keep the game show afloat, the future of Mike Richards as executive producer of Jeopardy! is now also uncertain.