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Mike Richards Steps Down As ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Over Past Offensive Comments

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 20, 2021

Topline

“Jeopardy!” Executive Producer Mark Richards announced Friday he is stepping down as the popular quiz show’s new host after a report published this week resurfaced offensive comments he made on a podcast years ago. 

Key Facts

Richards’ abrupt departure comes just a week after he was publicly named as the successor to Alex Trebek, the beloved former “Jeopardy!” host who died of cancer last November.

The new host faced harsh condemnation after a report from online publication The Ringer highlighted offensive comments he made on episodes of a comedy podcast recorded in 2013 and 2014.

The comments, which included probing his female assistant and co-host about whether they had ever taken nude photos, were slammed by critics as sexist and offensive.

Richards said in a statement Friday morning he is “stepping down” because it “has become clear that moving forward as a host would be too much of a distraction for our fans not the right move for the show.”

Richards said in a statement he is “stepping down” because it “has become clear that moving forward as a host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces and distributes “Jeopardy!”, confirmed Richards’ exit as host, but said he will stay in his role as an executive producer on the show.

Richards appealed directly to his staff in his memo, apologizing “for the unwanted negative attention” and “the confusion and delays this is now causing” (the show had started taping its new season on Thursday).

Crucial Quote

“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” Richards said in his statement.

What To Watch For

The show will once again pick up its search for a “permanent syndicated host,” Richards said. “Jeopardy!” has been relying on guest hosts since Trebek’s death, parading in a roster of celebrities, journalists, former winners and more to temporarily lead the game show.

Key Background

Richards issued an apology after The Ringer turned up a slew of Richards’ past comments, which it said included derogatory statements about women, Jews, people receiving unemployment benefits and more, on the “Randumb Show” podcast he co-hosted. Richards took down the podcast episodes, deeming them “a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.” He said the statements were intended to be “funny and provocative” and vowed to live up to his “serious obligations as a role model.” However, the apology did not quell criticism: the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday called for an investigation into the comments.

Chief Critic

Richards’ “disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter,” the ADL wrote in a statement. “Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation.”

Tangent

Richards was also battling scrutiny over reports on past allegations from his time working as an executive producer on The Price Is Right which began to surface after it became clear he was a frontrunner to replace Trebek. These included allegations of sexual discrimination made against him over a decade ago, which Richards disputed. “I want you to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right, he said.

Further Reading

“Mike Richards, Mayim Bialik Named ‘Jeopardy’ Hosts” (Forbes)

“‘Jeopardy!’ Host Frontrunner Mike Richards Says Discrimination Complaints ‘Do Not Reflect Reality Of Who I Am’” (Forbes)

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