Following an official confirmation as host of the beloved syndicated game show Jeopardy! last week, Mike Richards is stepping down from the position after succeeding the legendary Alex Trebek. In an announcement shared Friday morning, Richards attributed the "unwanted negative attention" to his decision, admitting "these past incidents and comments cast such a shadow" as they move onto a new chapter with the TV staple. With the door wide open now for past contenders among the likes of LeVar Burton, Aaron Rodgers, Ken Jennings, and even Mayim Bialik, who was subsequently tapped for the primetime and spinoff versions of the show, Richards reveals Sony Pictures Television will resume their search for a permanent host.
"SPT will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host," he wrote in his statement. "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." Richards went on to "apologize" to every fan for the "negative attention" and for the "confusion and delays" this is now causing production. "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."
Richards, who remains the executive producer of Jeopardy! saw his position take a major hit when social media argued over the abrupt choice, and past details about previous conduct at other series and statements made on a podcast show had resurfaced. Richards, who previously served as an executive producer of CBS's The Price Is Right appeared on the comedy podcast, The Randumb Show in 2013 and 2014, where he made disparaging remarks about the Jewish community, women and other groups. Further, Richards is the subject of two discrimination lawsuits filed more than a decade ago where a former Price Is Right model, Brandi Cochran, alleged he preferred that models looked like "they were going out on a date" and should wear bikinis more often on the morning game show, per a report from Complex.
Sony Pictures TV confirmed Richards' exit, stating to Variety that the backlash created "too much of a distraction for our fans and [was] not the right move for the show." The battered image leading the brand into a new era for the syndicated game show was plainly one too risky for Sony. "We support Mike's decision to step down as host," Sony Pictures TV told Variety. "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."