Mike Richards Won’t Be Hosting Jeopardy! After Those Offensive Podcast Comments

Photo: Daytime Emmy Awards 2021/Getty Images.
Updated August 20, 2021: Just days after being officially named the replacement host of Jeopardy!, Mike Richards has stepped down from his new gig. The decision comes in light of a bevy of troubling controversies surrounding the show's executive producer and his checkered past on other series, but what many are considering the final straw were comments made on his since-deleted podcast The Randumb Show.
Advertisement
Unearthed episodes of the podcast revealed disturbing conversations in which Richards mocked women's weight and slut-shamed a model. In response to the podcast conversation, the public continued rallying against Richards, and the ongoing drama led to him giving up the position of host on Jeopardy!.
"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," wrote Richards in a statement announcing the HR decision. "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," he continued. "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."
Now that the hosting gig is back on the market, Jeopardy! and its loyal fanbase might be looking to crowd favorite candidate LeVar Burton to once again fill Alex Trebek's shoes — for good this time. However, this would be a good time to revisit the late host's clear instructions for who he wanted to be his successor. In a 2018 interview, Trebek named legal analyst Laura Coates and NHL sportscaster Alex Faust as his picks to be the next possible host of Jeopardy!.
Advertisement
"Incredibly honored & humbled @Jeopardy Alex Trebek 1) knows who I am 2) thinks I'd be a great host of my fave game show ever that I grew up watching w/ my family & still watch w/ my own kids (who saw him say this & now think I'm a genius)" tweeted Coates upon being suggested by Trebek.
"I’m flattered by Mr. Trebek’s kind words," wrote Faust. "And delighted to hear he’s a big @LAKings fan!"
The search for a new host might have gotten off to a rocky (and shady) start, but there's no better time than the present to make things right — get Alex's picks on the line, please!
This story was originally published on August 16, 2021.
When Alex Trebek died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer in 2020, fans and executives were at a loss for how the beloved host’s work on Jeopardy! would be able to continue without him. A new temporary plan was set in place, recruiting a few famous faces to replace Trebek in the meantime, but recent developments from behind the scenes of the game show are stirring up major controversy, particularly around the show’s new permanent host Mike Richards.
While hosting the past few seasons of Jeopardy!, Trebek had been dealing with increasingly severe health issues related to his pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away in November 2020, leaving a massive hole in the hearts of generations who grew up watching the popular game show for decades. In the months that followed Trebek’s death, the team at Jeopardy! began searching for his replacement, knowing that whoever they would bring on would have big shoes to fill. Rather than just selecting one person, producers rounded up a group of unique celebrities to host the show in the meantime including Robin Roberts, Anderson Cooper, and Shailene Woodley's fiancé NFL star Aaron Rodgers. LeVar Burton was among the guest hosts, and became a fan favorite for Trebek’s permanent replacement. (Who better to take on the responsibility of quizzing America on obscure trivia than the very man who taught America how to read?)
Advertisement
As fate would have it, Burton wasn’t chosen to be the full-time host of Jeopardy! — Mike Richards would be passed the baton instead, splitting duties with The Big Bang's Mayim Bialik going forward.
Then and now, Richards seemed like a random pick given the star power of the guest hosts before him. However, he has been connected to Jeopardy! for quite some time; in addition to working as an executive producer on the show for years, Richards also spearheaded the campaign to find Trebek’s replacement.
Obviously, there are warranted concerns about the person responsible for picking Trebek’s successor being awarded the role after such a rigorous search — just how unbiased could the recruitment process have been if the person in charge of it threw his hat in the ring? — but Richards insists that he “never imagined” being picked for the gig. (Sure!) On top of the shady circumstances surrounding his hiring, the new host’s background is also marked by controversy. Before he worked at Jeopardy!, Richards served as an executive producer on The Price Is Right, and during that time, he was named in a few different lawsuits launched by models on the show alleging sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and insensitivity around an employee’s pregnancy. 
“These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” Richards wrote in an internal memo to the Jeopardy! team about the accusations. “I want you all to know 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.”
Advertisement
Given all the drama swirling around Richards now, longtime fans of the show aren't sure that he's worth the controversy, especially when Burton proved that he was a perfect candidate during his run on Jeopardy!. Though it doesn't look like the quiz show will be recasting the new host any time soon, we don't even have to mourn the missed opportunity on Burton's behalf — the bag may be on the way sooner than we know, courtesy of filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Upon hearing the news about Jeopardy!'s new host, DuVernay revealed that she's dreaming up a project just for the Reading Rainbow legend.
"Me trying to create a show right in this moment for @levarburton to host and make an international hit," DuVernay tweeted on August 11. And if you know Ava, you know that she's the type to get things done. Jeopardy! who?

More from TV

R29 Original Series

Advertisement