Mike Richards will not become the new permanent host of the iconic daytime game show after all.
Richards, who is also executive producer of “Jeopardy!,” saw his hold on the job undone with astonishing speed after unflattering and downright ugly details surfaced about his past conduct and statements he made on an eight-year-old podcast series. He will remain the show’s executive producer.
On Friday, Sony Pictures TV confirmed that Richards had agreed to step aside as host. In a statement, Richards said the backlash had created “too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
Richards’ hasty exit as host came a day after the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation after a report surfaced in The Ringer that Richards made disparaging remarks about Jews, women and other groups in episodes of the comedy podcast “The Randumb Show” recorded in 2013 and 2014.
In the end, Sony concluded that Richards’ image was too battered for him to take the helm of one of television’s most prestigious and popular brands. The irony is that the studio moved in his favor because he was seen as a neutral personality rather than an established name that might overshadow the show and its famously rapid fire, answers-in-the-form-of-a-question format.
“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony Pictures TV said. “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.”
But the studio also voiced support for him remaining in his role as executive producer. A new round of guest hosts will be tapped to tape episodes to launch the show’s 38th year in syndication next month. Richards began his first day of taping as permanent host on Aug. 19, which turned out to be his last day in the role.
“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,” Sony said.
Richards was named permanent host on Aug. 11, six days after Variety reported he was in advanced negotiations for the coveted job. At the same time, Sony Pictures named Bialik, who was a fan favorite during the guest host run that began in January, as host of “Jeopardy!” primetime specials and a spinoff series.
Meanwhile the people’s choice for the Jeopardy host gig, is serving unbothered this morning.
Happy Friday, y’all!
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) August 20, 2021