‘Jeopardy!’ host Mike Richards controversy, explained


Searching for the most topsy-turvy drama on television right now? You could do worse than the search for the next “Jeopardy!” host.

Mike Richards, the long-running quiz show’s executive producer, stepped down as host Friday, just more than a week after his selection was announced. The move, announced in a memo to “Jeopardy!” staff, closes — for now — one of the most tumultuous periods in the series’ history.

Richards’ very selection sparked an outcry on social media. The series had passed over a number of starry guest hosts, among them Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers and Levar Burton, for a well-reviewed but little-known insider, and missed an opportunity for the landmark in representation that casting a woman and/or person of color to lead a TV institution would have been.

The controversy brought new scrutiny to three discrimination lawsuits filed by “The Price Is Right” employees between 2008 and 2011, when Richards was an executive producer on the game show. (Richards, who wrote in an earlier memo that the complaints mischaracterized who he was and how he worked on “The Price Is Right,” was dismissed as a defendant in one of the suits; another suit was dismissed altogether; and the third was settled out of court.)

The final straw, though, seems to have been a report Wednesday by The Ringer‘s Claire McNear, who resurfaced offensive remarks about women, Jews and little people Richards made on a podcast he hosted in 2013 and 2014.

“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,” Richards wrote in Friday’s memo resigning from the role of host.

As the search for a full-time host resumes, the syndicated program, which is produced by Sony Pictures Television, will return to the rotating guest-host format it has maintained since the death of Alex Trebek in November. Mayim Bialik, already tapped to host the series’ prime-time specials and a possible spinoff, is likely to be among the top contenders for the job.

Read The Times’ full coverage of how we got here below.

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