Sony Pictures Television has released a statement following Mike Richards' exit as the new permanent host of Jeopardy!. The network has chosen to stand by Richards' decision, adding that it was "surprised" to learn of the host's rocky past. "We support Mike's decision to step down as host," Sony Pictures TV said. "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 EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect," the statement continued, per Variety. Richards was an executive producer on the show before being announced as host this month following his stint as a guest host in February –– which received rave reviews. Richards decided to step down from the highly coveted post following reports that he'd used racial slurs and anti-semitic language in a 2013-2014 podcast and that he'd once been involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
"It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter," he wrote in his statement. "As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over 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."
"SPT 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," he continued, before closing. "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." Jeopardy! will still broadcasts Richards' already worked on shows.