Shortly after beginning taping for the new season of Jeopardy!, Mike Richards has stepped down from his role as the new host amid the backlash from a litany of resurfaced offensive comments from his past. Before the show returns to guest hosts while it continues the search for Alex Trebek’s replacement, Richards’ episodes that have already taped will air as scheduled, reports Lesley Goldberg from The Hollywood Reporter, citing an insider on the show.
Just two days after Claire McNear’s reporting for The Ringer exposed a number of offensive comments made by the game show’s executive producer about little people, Jews, people receiving unemployment benefits and women, Richards released a memo to Jeopardy! staff Friday morning announcing he would be stepping back as host.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” Richards said. He continued that 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.”
The memo also indicated Richards will continue to serve as executive producer for the show, telling staff, “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.”
When reports first surfaced of Richards’ past comments, he took down the offending podcast episodes, saying in a statement that his “attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable.” He continued that he intended to live up to the responsibilities facing him as a “role model” and the new Jeopardy! host, but his apology did little to quell the backlash. The Anti-Defamation League even weighed in on the scandal, saying that Richards’ “disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter. Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm.” The organization called for an “investigation” into Richards’ “reported pattern.”