The search for the next permanent Jeopardy! host continues. Just a week after the long-running game show named executive producer Mike Richards as Alex Trebek's replacement, Richards has stepped down as Jeopardy! host. In a memo to staff this week, Richards announced, "I will be stepping down as host effective immediately." The decision came amid growing backlash to the decision amid several controversies surrounding Richards and a call from the Anti-Defamation League for an investigation into his "pattern" of offensive comments. Although he is stepping down as host, Richards will stay on as executive producer, Sony Television Pictures confirmed, adding in a statement that they "support Mike's decision."
In the memo to the Jeopardy! team, shared Friday by The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg, Richards said that while he was "deeply honored" when he was asked to serve as permanent host of the syndicated show and was "thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role," it has become clear that staying on as host "would be too much of a distraction for the show." As such, he announced, "I will be stepping down as host effective immediately." Although the upcoming season of Sony Pictures Television's syndicated daytime quiz show already began filming as planned, Richards explained that due to his decision to step back as host, "we will be cancelling production today."
Richards was named host of the regular syndicated version of the game show on Aug. 11 after a "tremendous amount of work and deliberation" went into the selection process. However, his selection was immediately shrouded in controversy, as just days earlier, reports surfaced that Richards was at the center of allegations of discrimination from when he worked on The Price Is Right. In lawsuits filed by former Price Is Right models from Richards' time serving as executive producer, accusations of pregnancy discrimination were raised. Shortly after, more controversy arose when The Ringer published an article chronicling some of the offensive remarks that Richards made on a Price is Right-themed podcast called The Randumb Show. The remarks, which were both racist and sexist, were made as Richards co-hosted the podcast from 2013 to 2014.
Amid the controversy, and as Jeopardy! began production, the Anti-Defamation League published a statement on Thursday calling for an investigation into Richards. In a statement shared to Twitter, the ADL said 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 ADL said, "This reported pattern warrants an investigation."
In his memo, Richards said, "It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a fresh chapter." He went on 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." Richards acknowledged that he has "a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."
With Richards now out as host, Sony Pictures Television will now "resume the search for a permanent syndicated host," according to Richards. As the search continues, Jeopardy! will resume production, with the game show set to bring on more guest hosts. Richards said further details "will be announced next week." Mayim Bialik is still slated to host the primetime specials and spinoff series.