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Mike Richards Out as Host of Jeopardy! [Updated]

Richards was named Alex Trebek's permanent successor just nine days ago

jeopardy taps mike richards as alex trebek's permanent replacement host
Mike Richards, courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
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    Mike Richards has been dropped as host of Jeopardy! just nine days after he was named the permanent successor to Alex Trebek. Update – August 31st: Richards is also out as Jeopardy!’s executive producer (see the full update below).

    Richards’ hiring as the quiz show’s new host was mired in controversy from the very onset. As an executive producer of Jeopardy!, some fans of the show questioned the legitimacy of the selection process, believing Richards tipped the scale in his favor.

    But it was ultimately Richards’ past misconduct towards women that proved his undoing. Shortly after it was reported that Richards was a frontrunner for the job at Jeopardy!, his involvement in a past workplace discrimination lawsuit resurfaced in the press. During his tenure as a producer on The Price Is Right, Richards was accused of firing a model from the show after learning that she was pregnant. After initially going to court, the model and producers for The Price Is Right reached a financial settlement.

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    What’s more, earlier this week The Ringer reported on Richards’ past derogatory comments about women that he made on his podcast in 2013 and 2014. In one episode, he called his co-host and former assistant Beth Triffon a “booth hoe,” “booth slut,” and “boothstitute” during a discussion of her past work as a CES model. In another, he lambasted a photo of his co-host and her female friends, calling them “really frumpy and overweight” and saying, “They all look terrible in the picture… They look fat and not good in the picture.” Richards was also heard using derogatory language to describe both little people and mentally disabled people.

    In a statement sent to Jeopardy! staff on Friday, Richards said, “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.”

    According to Richards, Sony Television will begin a new search for a permanent Jeopardy! 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.”

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    Mayim Bialik, former star of Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, was recently named as the host of Jeopardy!’s primetime episodes and a potential spinoff series, but due to other commitments she was not considered as a viable candidate for the show’s daily episodes. It’s possible Sony Television will circle back to some earlier candidates, such as LeVar Burton, former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, or Anderson Cooper.

    Update – August 31st: Sony initially said Richards would remain aboard as the executive producer of Jeopardy!. However, on Tuesday, Suzanne Prete, EVP, Business and Strategy at Jeopardy!, sent a message to the show’s staff announcing Richards’ termination. “I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! effective immediately. We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened.”

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