Mike Richards is out as host of “Jeopardy!” just nine days after the executive producer was named as the replacement for the late Alex Trebek.
Richards sent a letter to the staff of the show Friday morning, saying he was stepping down and canceling production for the day amid controversial remarks that resurfaced.
“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,” Richards said in the note to staff released by Sony Pictures Television, the studio that produces the show. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today.”
Earlier this week, a report on the website The Ringer revealed demeaning comments about women that Richards had made on a podcast. The clips were removed online after the report was posted.
After weeks of guest hosts on “Jeopardy!” the syndicated quiz show chose Richards as successor to the beloved Trebek on Aug. 11.
But after fan backlash to a selection process that recently turned messy, producer Sony split the pie by naming another guest host, actor Mayim Bialik, as emcee for a “Jeopardy!” prime-time and spinoff series, including a new college championship.
Richards said a search for a new host will begin again.
His note indicated that he will remain the show’s 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. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”
BREAKING: Mike Richards has stepped down as the host of Jeopardy! Official statement via Sony: pic.twitter.com/eJSwyBOXwN— Claire McNear (@clairemcnear) August 20, 2021
Richards was the executive producer of “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal” for more than a decade and produced the 2020 revival of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” His on-camera experience includes hosting “The Pyramid” and “Beauty and the Geek,” a reality show.
He joined “Jeopardy!” as the replacement for retiring executive producer Harry Friedman starting with the 2020-21 season, and was in the job for only a few months when Trebek, 80, died last November of pancreatic cancer.
Trebek was the host for 37 seasons.
Taping had been set to begin this week for the show’s upcoming 38th season starting Sept. 13.
New episodes of Jeopardy air weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on Local 10.