Mike Richards is stepping down as the new host of “Jeopardy!” amid continued backlash to his appointment due to resurfaced disparaging comments. He informed the Sony quiz show’s staff Friday morning in an email. Richards will remain the show’s executive producer.
“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,” Richards wrote.
Production on the new season of the quiz show, which just began Thursday with Richards as host, was canceled today. Richards taped five episodes of “Jeopardy!” yesterday, all of which will air, an individual with knowledge of the situation tells TheWrap.
Sony’s search for a permanent host of the syndicated show will resume, Richards said. For now, the long-running game show will go back to the guest-host model, which “Jeopardy!” had been using over the past several months to to audition potential replacements for the late Alex Trebek, with stints by LeVar Burton, Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric, among others.
Richards, who joined “Jeopardy!” as executive producer in 2019 was named Trebek’s permanent replacement last week, with Sony revealing that Mayim Bialik (who like Richards had taken a turn as guest host) would be acting as host for primetime specials. That announcement came just days after Richards was forced to answer for comments cited in a pair of “Price Is Right” lawsuits resurfaced earlier this month.
On Wednesday, The Ringer reported on the existence of “The Randumb Show,” Richards’ 2013 podcast in which he “repeatedly used offensive language and disparaged women’s bodies.” The podcast, recorded during his time as executive producer on “The Price Is Right,” was co-hosted by Richards and his former assistant Beth Triffon and ran for 41 episodes.
According to The Ringer, Richards repeatedly made sexist and objectifying comments toward Triffon and other women. In one instance cited, Richards mocked Triffon for collecting unemployment benefits, asking her “Do you feel dirty?” In another, he mocked a photo of her and her friends in swimsuits, saying they “look really frumpy and overweight.”
“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,” said in a statement to The Ringer at the time the story was published.
“The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around,” he continued. “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.”
On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into Richards’ “pattern” of offensive comments.
“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” a Sony Pictures Television spokesperson told said in a statement on Friday. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”
The spokesperson continued: “Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the ‘Jeopardy!’ team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
See Richards’s full note to staff about exiting as “Jeopardy!’s” new host 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.