UPDATE #2 (8/25):Despite losing the Jeopardy! hosting gig after a string of controversies, Mike Richards will continue to serve as an executive producer on the game show, as well as Wheel of Fortune, The New York Times reports. Sony TV executive Ravi Ahuja reportedly expressed the studio’s support for Richards and praised his decision to step down as host during a call with Jeopardy! staff. Richards, meanwhile, apologized again during the call and said he will undergo sensitivity training. A spokesman for Richards, Ed Tragliaferri, said Richards didn’t intend to leave the studio, saying, “Mike is committed to continuing as the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.”
UPDATE (8/23): Mayim Bialik will fill in as Jeopardy! host after Mike Richards’ stepped-down from the gig following a string of controversies. Bialik — who was already enlisted to host primetime specials and spinoffs — is scheduled to tape three weeks of episodes (15 in total), with production slated to resume this week. Per a statement, Sony Pictures Television will announce additional guest hosts soon.
Mike Richards announced that he would step down as the new host of Jeopardy! following a string of controversies that clouded his appointment as the show’s successor to Alex Trebek.
In a statement issued Friday, August 20th, Richards said, “[O]ver 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.”
Richards, who began working as an executive producer on Jeopardy! in 2019, was announced as the show’s new host at the beginning of August. He was set to take over the daily syndicated program, while actress Mayim Bialik was tapped to helm primetime specials and spinoffs.
In his statement, Richards said Sony Pictures Television will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host, and that until one is found, “we will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season, details of which will be announced next week.”
Richards concluded his message by saying, “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.”
Sony also issued a statement, saying, “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. 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. 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 executive producer he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
As CNN notes, production on the new season of Jeopardy began on Thursday, so there have already been some episodes taped with Richards as host. It’s unclear at the moment if these episodes will air.
Even before he was officially announced as the new Jeopardy! host, Richards found himself in hot water when he was forced to respond to allegations of pregnancy discrimination related to a lawsuit from 10 years ago. Then earlier this week, Richards had to issue another apology after The Ringer uncovered a number of derogatory comments he made between 2013 and 2014 about women, Jews, and people receiving unemployment on the podcast, The Randumb Show.
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” Richards said in a statement to The Ringer. “Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”