Mike Richards, the executive producer and newly chosen host of TV game show “Jeopardy!”, relinquished the latter role Friday following revelations about several offensive remarks he made years earlier.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” Mr. Richards said in a note to staffers obtained by The Washington Times.
“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,” said Mr. Richards. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
Sony Pictures Television, which produces the program, will accordingly resume searching for a permanent replacement for Alex Trebek, who hosted the show for over 30 years until his death in November 2020.
The last search for Trebek’s successor ended hardly a week earlier. Sony Pictures Television announced on Aug. 11 that Mr. Richards would host “Jeopardy!” and remain its executive producer.
Concerns about Mr. Richards hosting “Jeopardy!” became apparent within days, however, when a report published by The Ringer highlighted several offensive remarks he made on his podcast in 2013 and 2014.
“Richards‘ disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) watchdog group said through its Twitter account Thursday on the eve of him stepping down.
“Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm,” the ADL said in the tweet. “This reported pattern warrants an investigation.”
Sony Pictures Television did not know about the comments when Mr. Richards was appointed host last week and supports his decision to step down, a spokesperson for the production company told The Times.
“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,” the spokesperson said. “It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
Mr. Richards canceled Friday’s taping of “Jeopardy!” and told staff that it will feature guest hosts when production resumes. Further details will be announced next week, Mr. Richards told staffers.
“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,” Mr. Richards said in the note.
Game shows “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” were both created by late TV host Merv Griffin. The former debuted in 1964 and was originally hosted by Art Fleming before Trebek took over in 1984.