The clue: He is not the host of Jeopardy. The answer: Who is Mike Richards.
That’s because the long-running gameshow’s executive producer, whom Sony had tapped to replace legendary host Alex Trebek, has stepped down from the job before it began.
As The Daily Wire reported, Richards had come under intense fire from critics upset with comments he made between 2013 and 2014 as the host of the podcast, “Randumb.” Among the remarks that earned condemnation: he referred to his female co-host as a “booth ho,” “boothstitute” and “booth slut,” and he said “Ixnay on the ose-nay. She’s not an ew-Jay,” in reference to a woman’s facial features.
This last comment drew the ire of the Anti-Defamation League, which called for an investigation into his “pattern” of offensive remarks, saying, “Stereotyping is an entry point to hate.”
It marked the second round of outrage for Richards since he became a serious candidate for the job. The first involved his inclusion in two lawsuits from a “Price Is Right” model who alleged he and CBS discriminated against her after she informed them she was pregnant. Richards denied those allegations.
The mounting controversies evidently became too much for the 46-year-old, and he announced to staff Friday morning that he was quitting. The Hollywood Reporter reprinted Richards’ internal memo in full:
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.
[Sony Pictures Television] 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.
In a statement that confirmed that Richards will continue in his role as executive producer, Sony expressed surprise over his past provocative comments.
“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” the company said. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”
The statement continued: “Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the ‘Jeopardy!’ team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as executive producer he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
Many fans campaigned for LeVar Burton to nab the job, but while the “Roots” star was popular on social media, his actual ratings ranked at the bottom of the recent guest hosts the show tested.
No word on who Sony might turn to next to fill Trebek’s shoes.
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