Mike Richards, the host of the popular American television show Jeopardy!, has stepped down on the first day of production after sexist comments that he had made in a podcast resurfaced last week. However, he will remain as the show’s executive producer.
According to a report by Associated Press, between 2013 and 2014, Richards had made disparaging comments about women, the homeless, and others during a podcast titled The Randumb Show. He has also been accused of making offensive remarks about Asian and Jewish people.
The former host had started filming the new season on Thursday but he announced that he will be stepping down on the following day.
In a statement to his team, he said, “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.”
However, Sony confirmed that episodes that Richards shot on Thursday will be aired. As of now, the production company said that until a new permanent host is selected, the episodes will be aired along with a rotation of guest hosts.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony issued a statement saying that they supported Richards’ decision to step down. “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…It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
Following Alex Trebek’s death in November, Sony hired Richards as the new host and actor Mayim Bialik as an emcee for Jeopardy! primetime specials and spin-off series.
Mike Richards’ short-lived tenure as Jeopardy!’s host was already controversial. When the decision of his appointment was announced last week, he received backlash as he was the subject of a discrimination bias lawsuit during his time as a host on the game show The Price is Right.
Richards’ comments have also prompted the Anti-Defamation League (an organisation that fights anti-semitism and hate) to call for an investigation into the matter.