The long search for a permanent replacement for beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek following his death last year came to an end with the announcement that executive producer Mike Richards would take over the daily syndicated version of the series, despite a series of celebrity guest hosts with considerably bigger names. In the days since Richards' name was floated as a serious contender for the top job, however, reports of his past behavior have resurfaced, and he has apologized for some podcast comments now that his first season as Jeopardy host is set to begin filming.
Mike Richards launched a podcast called The Randumb Show back in 2013 that ran for 41 episodes through to 2014, and his commentary during the podcast reportedly included offensive language about race, economic status, women's bodies, and more. Although the podcast episodes were taken down from the hosting site following The Ringer (which discovered the podcast episodes) reaching out to production studio Sony Pictures Television and Richards' agent, the new Jeopardy! host issued a statement of apology:
At the time of writing, Sony Pictures Television has not officially commented on the podcast episodes or Mike Richards' comments, but a source reportedly told The Ringer that Sony was not aware of The Randumb Show or its subsequent removal until the outlet reached out for comment. The podcast comments resurfaced right as Jeopardy! prepares to begin taping Season 38 on Thursday, August 19. This apology also isn't the first time that Richards has had to acknowledge some past behavior in light of him becoming the new permanent host of Jeopardy!
After it was widely reported that Mike Richards was expected to be named the new permanent host, but before Jeopardy! made it official along with confirming Mayim Bialik's primetime role, a number of lawsuits from Richards' past during his time working on The Price Is Right resurfaced. Richards was an executive producer on The Price Is Right for a decade, and his time there involved multiple discrimination lawsuits filed by former models on the show. One woman, Brandi Cochran, alleged that Richards made insensitive comments regarding pregnant women, and she won the lawsuit that was later settled on appeal.
Mike Richards addressed the situation in a memo that he sent to Jeopardy! employees, in which he stated that during his time on The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal (for which he also served as an executive producer), he "embraced and celebrated each pregnancy and birth both in front of and behind the camera." He also stated that the way that his comments and actions "have been characterized" do not "reflect the reality" of who he is.
Even before the podcast comments resurfaced and news of the past lawsuits began to spread, Mike Richards wasn't the most popular choice to take the top job as Jeopardy! host. Star Trek and Reading Rainbow vet LeVar Burton was actually a favorite even before he made his Jeopardy! debut, and the low ratings for his guest hosting stint don't necessarily reflect a lack of interest. Burton had a gracious response to the news that Richards would likely be named host, but he had openly expressed interest previously in stepping behind the podium full-time.
Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer had some ruthless remarks about the show's hosting decisions as well, and it's hard not to wonder if the controversy around Mike Richards will rise to a point that his stint as permanent host is much shorter than expected. At this point, there is no sign that Jeopardy! will change course and choose another permanent host over Richards, but only time will tell if Richards' apology for the podcast comments will be the end of the story.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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