After it came to light that Mike Richards, newly named host of Jeopardy, had a history of abuse and scandal connected to him, he’s now out of a job. Fans of the show wary of Richards’s capacity to carry on its legacy and popularity can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Ringer reported earlier this week that Richards had a history of disparaging remarks toward women, Jewish people, and other marginalized groups. These appear throughout his former podcast The Randumb Show in 2013 and 2014. Richards, who had been executive producer on Jeopardy, confirmed that he was out in a statement. He said the report and the history which came to light had been “too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
He will remain executive producer of Jeopardy.
Sony Pictures, who’d initially chose Richards for his image as a “neutral personality,” stated that they were surprised to learn of his past actions.
“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 [Executive Producer] he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect,” Sony said.
Richards’s initial hiring spurred backlash from fans of the show, who felt his neutral personality was exactly what the show didn’t need. A wide range of personalities stepped in following the death of beloved host Alex Trebek, including Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Ken Jennings, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Aaron Rodgers.
Many hinted that Richards had the job secured prior to the guest hosts, including Mayim Bialik, who will continue in her role as show co-host for Primetime and other Jeopardy special shows.
“I have known, both Mike and I have known. So there was a leak last week, don’t worry,” she explained in her Instagram video from August 4. “Everything’s fine, everything’s great. This is the plan. Sony is very, very lovely to do this the way they’ve done it. It’s really beautiful.”
After Trebek died, fans clamored to see long-time, book-loving LeVar Burton given the chance to host the show and, in April, Sony Pictures offered him the chance. Reports credit a petition from Jeopardy viewers as part of how that decision was made. Unlike other guest hosts, though, Burton was given only one week to host, July 26–30, rather than two like others. Some have speculated he was not given the opportunity to excel in the role, due to this shorter tryout period.
And if Bialik’s video is true, Richards was already selected as host before Burton’s tenure ended.
For now, the search is back on. Mayiam Bialik will remain in her post while the company seeks out a replacement for Richards. Whether or not they listen to fans and their desire to see LeVar grow and learn how to master the lectern for the show remains to be seen.