Drama and controversy proceed to swirl over the choice of a alternative host for Jeopardy! within the wake of Alex Trebek’s passing from pancreatic most cancers problems late final yr. Jeopardy! government producer Mike Richards was named the brand new host simply final week, a call that sparked an instantaneous backlash amongst followers and former contestants of the present. And now, Richards will probably be stepping down on his very first day of official internet hosting duties, Deadline Hollywood experiences. Richards will proceed in his position as government 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, greatest recognized for her roles on The Huge Bang Principle 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 ebook fanatic LeVar Burton. Each Burton and Jennings proved to be fan favorites, and Jennings’ run posted the best scores of the season. (Burton’s scores had been decrease, maybe due partially 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 workers whereas serving as government producer of The Value Is Proper. (Each fits had been ultimately 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 way in which through which 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 School Championship.” The backlash was swift and powerful, with some questioning the integrity of the choice course of, given Richards’ government producer position and the way little-known he’s to audiences in comparison with the opposite candidates.
Richards might 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 quite a few unnamed sources, however the podcast feedback had been public.
McNear combed by all 41 episodes, being attentive to all of the instances Richards “used offensive language and disparaged girls’s our bodies.” His often off-color remarks focused Haitians, Asians, and Jews, as an illustration, 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 very embarrassing second of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from practically a decade in the past. Wanting again now, there is no such thing as a excuse, in fact, for the feedback I made on this podcast and I’m deeply sorry. The podcast was meant to be a collection of irreverent conversations between longtime pals 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 character who speaks to many individuals by my position on tv means I’ve substantial and severe obligations as a task mannequin, and I intend to reside as much as them.
Ultimately, nonetheless, there have been simply too many previous controversies, fueling fears that maintaining Richards on as host would completely tarnish the Jeopardy! model. “We help Mike’s choice to step down as host,” a Sony spokesperson advised Deadline Hollywood. “We had been shocked this week to study of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used previously. We’ve got spoken with him about our issues and our expectations shifting ahead. Mike has been with us for the final two years and has led the Jeopardy! workforce by probably 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’ll renew the seek for a everlasting host, and maybe which means Jennings and Burton, amongst different contenders, will get yet one more likelihood at assuming Trebek’s mantle. Presumably, Bialik will stay as host for particular Jeopardy! tasks.
Right here is Richards’ resignation memo to Jeopardy! workers in full:
It pains me that these previous incidents and feedback have forged such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we glance to begin 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 broaden my position. Nevertheless, over the past a number of days it has turn into clear that shifting ahead as host could be an excessive amount of of a distraction for our followers and never the correct transfer for the present. As such, I will probably be stepping down as host efficient instantly. Because of this, we will probably be canceling manufacturing right this moment.
SPT will now resume the seek for a everlasting syndicated host. Within the meantime, we will probably be bringing again visitor hosts to proceed manufacturing for the brand new season, particulars of which will probably be introduced subsequent week.
I need to apologize to every of you for the undesirable unfavorable consideration that has come to Jeopardy! over the previous few weeks and for the confusion and delays that is now inflicting. I do know I’ve quite a lot of work to do to regain your belief and confidence.