Who is the next host of Jeopardy?
Not Mike Richards.
The show's executive producer announced Friday in a memo to staff that he would be stepping down as the permanent host to replace the late Alex Trebek.
Richards said his decision was made to end the "unwanted negative attention" the game show has received since he was named by Sony Pictures Television last week as full-time host of the syndicated show.
"It has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move," he said.
The selection of Richards had drawn backlash due to comments he made about women in 2013 and 2014 podcasts that were highlighted by the Ringer. Other reports had highlighted old lawsuits from models on The Price Is Right who alleged male producers on that show, including Richards, had harassed and discriminated against them when they became pregnant.
Richards apologized for his podcast comments but said of the lawsuits that "the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price Is Right."
Richards has served as executive producer of Jeopardy since 2019 and had initially led the search to replace Trebek until he himself became a contender, although critics accused him of rigging the contest.
In addition to Richards, Mayim Bialik, best known as an actor on The Big Bang Theory, was selected as host for the primetime spinoffs of Jeopardy, but she too drew criticism for past comments she had made about vaccines. (She has since said she is "not at all an anti-vaxxer.")
In his memo, Richards told staff that Sony Pictures Television would resume the search for a permanent syndicated host and bring back guest hosts in the interim.
A Sony Pictures Television spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News they supported his decision to step down. "We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past," the spokesperson said. "We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward."
Richards is expected to continue as executive producer.
"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," Richards wrote. "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."
Read Richards's memo to staff:
It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter.
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.
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.