Who is the shortest serving “permanent host” of the game show Jeopardy?
Mike Richards, the executive producer of the long-running game show who was appointed to become the permnanent host of the show just last week by producers Sony Television, has stepped down from the position.
Richards’ departure comes less than 48 hours after a scathing article on The Ringer highlighting a number of misogynistic and anti-Semitic comments he had made on his old podcast, The Randumb Show. It was the second wave of accusations made against Richards. Previously, there were allegations that Richards discriminated against several pregnant female employees during his tenure as executive producer of The Price Is Right. It is worth noting that his time on The Price Is Right and when he was producing his podcast overlap.
After iconic Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s passing last November, the show brought in a number of celebrity guest hosts – from former Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings to actors like Mayim Bialik and newscasters including Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper. These were seen by many as very public auditions for a new permanent host for the show.
The Ringer article also paints a damning portrait of how Richards, as Jeopardy’s executive producer, could have manipulated the episodes that were sent to focus groups for feedback to scheduling the single week that fan favorite LeVar Burton hosted during the Summer Olympics in order to depress his ratings. The upshot of all of this was to make himself appear a more viable candidate for the position of permanent host.
Production on new episodes of the game show had begun just yesterday with Richards as host. While it is doubtful that Sony will just trash those episodes, the studio will presumably need to do some editing to them. Although it has not be reported that he did so, there is the likelihood of Richards having taken a moment at the beginning of his first show to make a statement about being chosen as the new host.
How Sony plans to move forward with the show remains to be seen,. It is possible that execs will move Bialik, who was named host for any potential prime time shows that would be produced at the same time Richards was announced as regular host, could be slid into position for the regular show. Or they may embark on another round of guest hosts/auditions.
One thing is for certain. Sony executives had nearly three years from Trebek’s announcement of his cancer diagnosis to now. And they have seriously fumbled the handoff of the show.