comScore Mike Richards Officially Lost Himself the 'Jeopardy!' Job
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Mike Richards Officially Lost Himself the Jeopardy! Job

He is still keeping his OTHER Jeopardy! job, though.

 

Mike Richards stands at the host podium during an episode of Jeopardy.

Two days after The Ringer reported on the history of gross, sexist, and otherwise derogatory comments made by Mike Richards on a podcast he hosted a few years back, Richards is out as the new Jeopardy host.

“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” a statement from Richards reads.

“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.”

While the podcast comments (which were not outliers but rather part of Richards’ entire sexist “average white-guy host” persona) unearthed by reporter Claire McNear were absolutely fireable offenses, they were far from the only issue people had with Richards. In this statement, Richards himself seems to acknowledge as much, apologizing for “the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks.”

Before we knew about the sexist comments, before we knew about the harassment and discrimination lawsuits, Richards was still a terrible pick for this job. After placing such importance on the guest-host process and promising to really listen to fan input, the show went and made an executive producer who no one seemed to be rooting for as its permanent host. (And they did so after cutting short the guest-hosting gig of LeVar Burton, by far one of the most popular fan-favorites from the entire process.)

By all accounts, Richards’ goal was achieving the role of game show host—any game show host—rather than being specifically passionate about Jeopardy! itself.

From Claire McNear’s report at The Ringer:

“It’s unfortunate that guest hosts like Aaron Rodgers and LeVar Burton really put themselves out there in terms of openly wanting the job and for Rodgers in particular, discussing the extraordinary amount of effort to which he went to prepare for his turn, when it’s not clear anyone besides Richards ever had a real chance at the main role,” says Kristin Sausville, who won five games on Jeopardy! in 2015. “Rodgers and Burton were clear about how important Jeopardy! was to them personally. Given that he also was a candidate to host The Price Is Right, it looks like Richards just wanted to host a game show, any game show.”

When the backlash initially hit after it was announced that the show’s new host was going to be an executive producer, giving the impression that he was essentially giving the job to himself, Sony said that Richards had “moved aside after he emerged as a candidate.”

However, in his apology here, he uses “we” language, saying “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.” (As if audiences’ trust in and enthusiasm for that guest host process hasn’t been entirely eroded at this point.)

Sony has confirmed that Richards is, in fact, staying on as EP, raising even further questions regarding how far aside he ever actually moved.

Mike Richards was the wrong choice for Jeopardy! host for so many different reasons. It’s disappointing that Sony refused to acknowledge that until blatantly offensive comments were made public, but at least we got here eventually.

(image: Jeopardy Productions)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.