September 27, 2022

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Truly Business

Mike Richards, the New ‘Jeopardy!’ Host, Has Give up

7 min read

Mike Richards’s initial and, as it turned out, very last day of filming as the host of “Jeopardy!” began with a accumulating that executives at the prolonged-managing quiz exhibit hoped would symbolize a contemporary begin.

In a taped ceremony on Thursday at the Sony Photographs lot in Culver Town, Calif., Sony disclosed that the “Jeopardy!” studio would be renamed for Alex Trebek, the beloved host who died very last yr. Mr. Richards smiled as cameras rolled and Mr. Trebek’s widow and children appeared on.

Less than 24 hours afterwards, Mr. Richards experienced quit his hosting gig, “Jeopardy!” creation was positioned on hold, and the show’s supporters were having difficulties to fully grasp how a television establishment and staple of the American living room could have botched a succession strategy soon after 37 a long time of balance and good results.

Mr. Richards stepped down on Friday right after revelations of offensive and sexist feedback he produced on a podcast various a long time back, just nine days following Sony introduced his new job with fantastic fanfare. He wrote in a staff memo that “moving forward as host would be much too considerably of a distraction for our fans and not the ideal go for the display.”

“Jeopardy!”, which to start with aired in 1964, is meant to be TV’s consolation food, an un-glitzy redoubt from politics and tribulations. Mr. Richards’s abrupt rise and fall plunged the present into the tradition wars of 2021, subjecting it to intense debates, primarily on social media, over thoughts of privilege, range and workplace tradition.

The show’s “appeal is its trustworthiness and timelessness,” claimed Ken Jennings, the former winner and a “Jeopardy!” consulting producer. “It’s a single of the final pure issues in a troubled age. And I hate that some thing pure like that has to be sullied by backstage drama.”

Sony explained Mr. Richards would remain as executive producer. But he have to contend with a dispirited “Jeopardy!” staff members whose frustrations erupted in an psychological meeting on Thursday, wherever crew members explained to Mr. Richards his earlier conduct experienced imperiled the show’s standing, in accordance to two folks who spoke on the ailment of anonymity to describe delicate inside discussions.

Mr. Richards was presently dealing with a furor prior to this 7 days. As the show’s govt producer, Mr. Richards served oversee the research for Mr. Trebek’s substitute just before Sony picked him above supporter favorites like the actor LeVar Burton. Aged lawsuits experienced disclosed accusations of sexist habits at his previous position overseeing “The Value Is Suitable.” (He disputes the claims.)

Until finally Wednesday, it appeared like Mr. Richards and Sony had weathered the storm.

Then a report in The Ringer, by the journalist Claire McNear, unveiled a sequence of offensive responses Mr. Richards manufactured on a podcast he as soon as ran named “The Randumb Clearly show.” In a 2013 episode, Mr. Richards joked about women of all ages who “dress like a hooker” on Halloween in yet another episode, he known as his woman co-host a “booth slut” simply because she when labored as a design at a shopper clearly show in Las Vegas. He described ladies who dress in a single-piece swimsuits as searching “really frumpy and overweight” and referred to stereotypes about Jews and significant noses.

Mr. Richards, a stand-up comedian turned video game clearly show impresario, was serving as executive producer of “The Selling price Is Right” at the time he designed the opinions, which prompted the Anti-Defamation League to get in touch with for an investigation.

“I’m not fairly sure he understands how hurtful and how problematic his past conduct was,” the league’s main govt, Jonathan Greenblatt, reported in an job interview right after Mr. Richards give up. “He did not apologize for the damage. He just apologized to his colleagues for leading to undesirable adverse awareness and output delays.”

Mr. Richards’s podcast remarks also echoed some claims manufactured versus him in the “Price of Right” lawsuits, like allegations that he had balked when one of the show’s on-air models introduced that she was pregnant with twins. In accordance to the lawsuit, Mr. Richards put his facial area in his arms and instructed her, “Twins? Are you serious?”

The situation was eventually settled. Mr. Richards claimed in a statement this month that the allegations do “not reflect the actuality of who I am.”

Andy Saunders, who operates the web-site “The Jeopardy! Fan” and is a vocal on the internet commentator about the exhibit, reported he was surprised that Mr. Richards would keep on being as the show’s executive producer.

“It feels like he doesn’t really recognize the gravity of his mistake and thinks that if he just stays guiding the scenes, then almost everything will blow above,” Mr. Saunders stated in an interview. He reported Sony manufactured a “massive mistake” by not appropriately vetting the new host and famous that Mr. Richards’s podcast was posted on the internet.

“Either they did not pay attention to it, or they did listen to it and did not believe it was a challenge — both of which would be main glitches,” Mr. Saunders reported.

At the taping Thursday in Culver Metropolis, Mr. Richards was joined by Anthony Vinciquerra, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s main executive, and Ravi Ahuja, its Television chairman. Two other contenders for Mr. Trebek’s position, the previous contestants Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen, also came, expecting to show up at Mr. Richards’s debut taping.

As a substitute, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Jennings ended up escorted from the soundstage to a close by inexperienced place, wherever they watched the taping over a shut feed. They were being explained to that Mr. Richards was also nervous to have them in the studio, in accordance to a few individuals familiar with the incident, who spoke on the problem of anonymity.

A person of the men and women likened it to inviting Joe DiMaggio back to Yankee Stadium and then not permitting him in the dugout.

Sony mentioned obtain to the taping was restricted since of pandemic protocols restricting the amount of people in the studio Mr. Vinciquerra was not on the soundstage, both.

The research to exchange Mr. Trebek, who hosted the demonstrate for 37 yrs, involved a parade of visitor hosts like Anderson Cooper, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Buck and others. One particular contender was just about not known to the viewers: Mr. Richards, who began as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” past calendar year.

In the beginning, Mr. Richards spoke dispassionately about the research, telling The New York Moments in January that he required the show’s viewers to weigh in on the selection and that the new host should not be merely accomplishing an “impression of Alex.” He did not mention that he may well also be in the managing.

“I consider there will be force and strain on whoever that individual is,” he explained of the possible new host.

Sony has said that Mr. Richards moved apart from the selection process following he emerged as a candidate the best final decision was built by Mr. Vinciquerra, the main government. But as government producer, Mr. Richards retained a critical role in figuring out which tapes of potential hosts would be screened for the aim groups that Sony was learning carefully. Other supervising “Jeopardy!” producers were excluded from that method.

Mr. Richards’s range experienced drawn notably fierce objections from a legion of admirers lobbying on social media for Mr. Burton, the longtime host of the PBS children’s collection “Reading Rainbow.” Mr. Burton was a visitor host in July and experienced campaigned for the lasting function, expressing he felt like he had been planning his complete existence to host “Jeopardy!” and that it would be a substantial for a Black individual to occupy the part for the initially time. A agent for Mr. Burton declined to comment on Friday.

The show’s look for will now start off yet again with a further series of guest hosts. Mr. Richards’s 7 days of telecasts, such as 5 episodes that he filmed on Thursday, are established to air the 7 days of Sept. 13. Mayim Bialik, the sitcom star, will remain as host of “Jeopardy!” key-time specials.

On Friday, Sony explained in a statement that it had been “surprised” to master of Mr. Richards’s offensive podcast opinions, but praised him for leading “Jeopardy!” in the wake of Mr. Trebek’s loss of life. “It is our hope that as govt producer he will go on to do so with professionalism and respect,” Sony stated.

The studio declined to comment past its geared up statement.

In his very own memo on Friday, Mr. Richards wrote, “It pains me that these past incidents and responses have forged such a shadow on ‘Jeopardy!’ as we appear to commence a new chapter.”

He concluded: “I know I have a lot of work to do to get back your have confidence in and self esteem.”

Lauren Herstik contributed reporting.

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