Update on August 31:
Sony Pictures Television informed staff on Tuesday, August 31, that Richards will also step down as executive producer.
“I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately,” Suzanne Prete, EVP of business and strategy at both shows, said in a memo sent to staff. “We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened.”
Original story, posted August 20:
Richards, 46, announced his exit in an internal memo on Friday, August 20, Us Weekly can confirm. Guest hosts will continue to be at the helm of the show until a permanent replacement is found.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” he wrote in the memo. “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.”
After noting that the search for a new host will begin again, the former Price Is Right producer continued, “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.”
Sony Pictures TV also released a statement following the news. “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. 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 company said. “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 EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
Richards, who was named the new cohost on August 11, was a controversial pick from the start following discrimination allegations he faced while working as an executive producer on The Price Is Right. Earlier this month, he addressed the claims in an email to staffers, noting that his past comments do “not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price Is Right.”
Richards was set to take over for the late Alex Trebek, who died at age 80 in November 2020 after battling pancreatic cancer. Mayim Bialik, who was announced to lead all primetime specials, has not yet commented about the change.
The exit comes two days after The Ringer posted a lengthy piece mentioning Richards’ offensive remarks from “The Randumb Show” podcast, which he cohosted from 2013 to 2014. During the episodes, he reportedly made comments about women’s appearances and weight.
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” he said in a statement to The Ringer. “Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes.”
He continued, “My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”