Mike Richards, the Jeopardy! executive producer who gave himself a high-profile hosting gig and then immediately lost it once everyone realized he was a jerk, will remain on as the game show’s boss, The New York Times reports. Many observers expected Richards to hammer out an exit deal with Jeopardy!’s production company, Sony Pictures Television.
Jeopardy! has been in need of a host for nearly a year, following the tragic death of beloved host Alex Trebek, who passed away last November due to complications with pancreatic cancer. Executives tried out a variety of A-list guest hosts, including actor Levar Burton, railroad empire heir Anderson Cooper, and Jeopardy! hall-of-famer Ken Jennings.
Richards claims he recused himself from the selection process. But, as the New York Times noted, in his capacity as the show’s executive producer, he had a hand in selecting which footage of potential hosts ended up in front of focus group audiences.
On August 11, Sony announced that Richards would become the show’s permanent host. But an August 18 Ringer report resurfaced some seriously gross behavior from his past. On his podcast, The Randumb Show, Richards made sexist, racist, classist, and anti-Semetic statements. He’s also named in two anti-discrimination suits from his time as executive producer of The Price Is Right. In one instance, as the Times reports, Richards balked “when a model he had hired for the show revealed she was pregnant with twins.”
Last Friday, Richards formally stepped down as the show’s host. Given the nature of his priors and the rapidity with which he abandoned the hosting gig, Hollywood insiders expected that Richards would negotiate some sort of exit (likely with much $$$) from the show. But, as Sony TV exec Ravi Ahuja reportedly told Jeopardy! staff in an all-hands call this week, he’ll stay on as executive producer. He’ll now report to Suzanne Prete, a longtime business and legal affairs exec at Sony. Prete is also charged with overseeing the show’s financial dealings. Sony says Prete’s new role was determined before all of the recent business.
According to the Times, Richards will undergo sensitivity training.
In the interim, Jeopardy! has tapped former Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, who was already tapped to host the show’s primetime specials, as a temporary host. She’s, uh, not so great either.