The transition from Alex Trebek to Mike Richards as the host of Jeopardy! didn’t go exactly as planned. In fact, it has been an almost outright disaster with a major announcement happening today. After months of guest-hosting gigs from a variety of celebrities, the show finally landed on Richards as the new host. But it has been nothing but problems since. And now, the latest news out of CNN is that Richards has stepped down from the role even before it really got started. Effective Friday, Jeopardy! will once again be looking for a new host to replace Alex Trebek.
This news of Mike Richards stepping down does feel like something of a foregone conclusion. Ever since Jeopardy! had announced him as the replacement host, there has been a near cavalcade of disturbing reports coming to the forefront about his past behavior on other shows. They included comments about women and other races as well as possible instances of abuse of power in his previous executive producing roles on this show and others. Richards did issue an internal memo and statement about his decision to back away as the new host of the popular quiz show.
It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter…(Sony) 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.
This news comes in the wake of a tumultuous changing of the guards at Jeopardy! And on the heels of The Anti-Defamation League calling for Jeopardy to institute an investigation against Mike Richards for comments he made on a podcast he used to host back in 2013 and 2014. Some of these comments were unearthed by The Ringer writer and contributor Claire McNair, though it wasn’t like they were necessarily hidden. The podcast is readily available for anyone to listen to even now. But McNair’s story about Jeopardy and Mike Richards appears to be the final straw that will have the show looking for a new host.
The Mike Richards podcast was called The Randumb Show and apparently Richards used some of the time on the program making a number of disparaging remarks to his female co-hosts as well as commenting on different races and ethnicities. Among the comments Jeopardy host Mike Richards made on the show were references he made to some female Beth Triffon calling her “a booth slut”, a “booth ho” and even the Richards-conceived “boothstitute”. Classy, but it gets worse. According to Vanity Fair, Richards also made disparaging and body-shaming remarks to Triffon and others, referencing who should be able to wear certain types of bathing suits out in public. He then questioned them about whether they had any nude pictures stored on their phones. Again, dude sounds like a total class act, someone who aligns perfectly with Jeopardy’s academic sensibilities.
In their call for an investigation, The Anti-Defamation League referencing these quotes as well as supposed comments he made about both the Jewish and Asian culture respectively. Mike Richards, via his representation, did initially publish an apology for these comments and others that have come to light in recent weeks. But in the end, it seems this was much too little, much too late.
In addition to these comments, there had been allegations of abuse of power (among other things) in his time as a producer for the show as well as his time in a similar role on The Price is Right. Again, these things don’t seem like isolated incidents. What the ADL is referring to, and which is apparently all but confirmed by other media sources, is that Richards has had some pattern of unacceptable behavior in the workplace over the last many years.
Time will tell who ultimately takes over the Jeopardy! hosting gig. Offered the replacement duties after the passing of Alex Trebek last year, Richards seemed all but locked into the role with Mayim Bialik being tasked with some guest-host opportunities as fill-in spots as well. There is some chance that the latter now comes into the role full-time. Or we could see the return of fan-favorite guest host LaVar Burton as well.