And just like that, the Mike Richards-era of Jeopardy! is over, as the man tapped to replace Alex Trebek as the syndicated game show’s permanent host has stepped down due to recent revelations of past offensive comments. Variety was among the first to report on Richards’ decision.
Just nine days after Sony Pictures Entertainment announced that Richards and Mayim Bialik would serve as the new Jeopardy! hosting duo (Richards for the daily syndicated show, Bialik for primetime specials), Richards has removed himself from the podium (he will still serve as an executive producer for the show). The decision comes after more information about past statements and conduct that Richards made, including negative comments on women, Jews and other groups in a podcast from the website The Ringer. On Aug. 19, the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into the comments.
This is all in addition to the revelations that Richards was included in a discrimintation lawsuit during his time as an executive producer on The Price Is Right when it was first reported that he was in negotiations to take over as the host of Jeopardy!
In a statement announcing his decision to step down, Richards said that “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.
Richards did tape his first shows as permanent host on Aug. 19, but production has halted following the news.
While Bialik has been tapped to host primetime specials of Jeopardy!, Sony Pictures has made no announcement that she would step into the permanent job in place of Richards (Bialik does still have her own Fox sitcom, Call Me Kat, that could make scheduling difficult). However, she will serve as the first guest host taking over for Richards in an extended run. Variety has reported that Bialik will take over for 15 episodes, which will last three weeks. More guest hosts will be announced at a later date.
We’ll have to wait and see if any of the previous guest hosts, including fan-favorite Levar Burton, or some of the new ones will get the shot to over for Alex Trebek.
Season 38 of Jeopardy! is scheduled to begin on Sept. 13.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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