Drama and controversy proceed to swirl over the choice of a substitute host for Jeopardy! within the wake of Alex Trebek’s passing from pancreatic most cancers problems late final yr. Jeopardy! govt producer Mike Richards was named the brand new host simply final week, a choice that sparked an instantaneous backlash amongst followers and former contestants of the present. And now, Richards might be stepping down on his very first day of official internet hosting duties, Deadline Hollywood stories. Richards will proceed in his position as govt producer on the sport present.
As we beforehand reported, Trebek’s final episodes aired in January 2021. All through the remainder of its thirty seventh season, the present used a protracted record of visitor hosts to fill in for Trebek on the podium, together with Richards and Mayim Bialik, finest recognized for her roles on The Massive Bang Idea and Blossom. (She additionally has a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA.) The rotation included former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, newscasters Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper, and e-book fanatic LeVar Burton. Each Burton and Jennings proved to be fan favorites, and Jennings’ run posted the very best rankings of the season. (Burton’s rankings had been decrease, maybe due partly to his episodes competing with the Summer season Olympics on NBC.)
Even earlier than his choice, allegations started circulating that Richards had discriminated towards a number of pregnant staff whereas serving as govt producer of The Value Is Proper. (Each fits had been finally settled.) “These had been allegations made in employment disputes towards the present,” Richards wrote in a memo to Jeopardy! workers. “I would like you all to know that the best way wherein my feedback and actions have been characterised in these complaints doesn’t replicate the fact of who I’m or how we labored collectively on The Value is Proper.”
On August 11, Sony introduced that Richards and Bialik would share internet hosting duties on Jeopardy! when the present returns for its thirty eighth season later this yr, with Richards internet hosting the common model of the present and Bialik internet hosting “prime time and spinoff collection, together with the upcoming all-new Jeopardy! Nationwide Faculty Championship.” The backlash was swift and robust, with some questioning the integrity of the choice course of, given Richards’ govt producer position and the way little-known he’s to audiences in comparison with the opposite candidates.
Richards may need weathered that backlash, however then a damning investigative article by Claire McNear appeared two days in the past on The Ringer. The piece detailed a number of situations of offensive feedback Richards made throughout his podcast The Randumb Present (purportedly a peek behind the scenes of The Value Is Proper), which aired in 2013-2014. McNear’s account depends on a variety of unnamed sources, however the podcast feedback had been public.
McNear combed by means of all 41 episodes, paying attention to all of the instances Richards “used offensive language and disparaged girls’s our bodies.” His incessantly off-color remarks focused Haitians, Asians, and Jews, for example, and he used an offensive time period for little folks when discussing Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. The Anti-Defamation League known as for an investigation in response.
The podcast audio was pulled down simply hours after McNear contacted Sony and Richards for remark, and the internet hosting web site was deleted. Richards issued the next assertion to The Ringer:
It’s humbling to confront a really embarrassing second of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from almost a decade in the past. Wanting again now, there isn’t a excuse, after all, for the feedback I made on this podcast and I’m deeply sorry. The podcast was supposed to be a collection of irreverent conversations between longtime associates who had a historical past of joking round. Even with the passage of time, it’s greater than clear that my makes an attempt to be humorous and provocative weren’t acceptable, and I’ve eliminated the episodes. My obligations right this moment as a father, husband, and a public persona who speaks to many individuals by means of my position on tv means I’ve substantial and severe obligations as a job mannequin, and I intend to dwell as much as them.
Ultimately, nevertheless, there have been simply too many previous controversies, fueling fears that protecting Richards on as host would completely tarnish the Jeopardy! model. “We help Mike’s resolution to step down as host,” a Sony spokesperson instructed Deadline Hollywood. “We had been shocked this week to be taught of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used prior to now. We have now spoken with him about our considerations and our expectations transferring ahead. Mike has been with us for the final two years and has led the Jeopardy! group by means of essentially the most difficult time the present has ever skilled. It’s our hope that as EP he’ll proceed to take action with professionalism and respect.”
So what occurs to Jeopardy! now? Sony has stated it would renew the seek for a everlasting host, and maybe which means Jennings and Burton, amongst different contenders, will get yet another likelihood at assuming Trebek’s mantle. Presumably, Bialik will stay as host for particular Jeopardy! initiatives.
Right here is Richards’ resignation memo to Jeopardy! workers in full:
It pains me that these previous incidents and feedback have solid such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we glance to start out a brand new chapter.
As I discussed final week, I used to be deeply honored to be requested to host the syndicated present and was thrilled by the chance to develop my position. Nonetheless, over the past a number of days it has turn out to be clear that transferring ahead as host can be an excessive amount of of a distraction for our followers and never the suitable transfer for the present. As such, I might be stepping down as host efficient instantly. Because of this, we might be canceling manufacturing right this moment.
SPT will now resume the seek for a everlasting syndicated host. Within the meantime, we might be bringing again visitor hosts to proceed manufacturing for the brand new season, particulars of which might be introduced subsequent week.
I wish to apologize to every of you for the undesirable detrimental consideration that has come to Jeopardy! over the previous couple of weeks and for the confusion and delays that is now inflicting. I do know I’ve lots of work to do to regain your belief and confidence.