Mike Richards has announced he won’t be hosting Jeopardy!, after questions have persisted about how the show’s executive producer was chosen for the coveted role.
Richards has been scrutinized over earlier allegations of a hostile work environment, as well as inappropriate comments he allegedly made about women on a podcast that he once hosted.
“I will be stepping down as host effective immediately,” Richards said in an email to staff that was provided to NPR Friday.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” he said, adding that he had been honored to be tapped to fill the role that was defined by the late Alex Trebek.
Controversy intensified when an old podcast resurfaced
Richards stepped down from his new role just a week after Sony Pictures Television said he would become the new host of the daily program, with actor Mayim Bialik also named the host of a Jeopardy! prime-time series and spinoffs.
The choice had set off a raft of questions, particularly after the venerable franchise attracted a wide range of candidates who guest-hosted during a highly publicized search for Trebek’s replacement.
Richards came under added scrutiny this week, when The Ringer reported that from 2013 to 2014, when Richards hosted a podcast called The Randumb Show, he “repeatedly used offensive language and disparaged women’s bodies.”
The podcast had been created as a look behind the curtains of The Price Is Right show that Richards was then helping to lead. The podcast was taken down shortly after the website reached out for comment about it, and Richards issued an apology in a statement that also sought to do damage control.
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” Richards was quoted as saying. “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,” he said, adding that the results were “not acceptable.”
Read Richards’ message to the show’s staff
Here’s Richards’ full internal note to staff, which the show says should serve as his public statement:
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.