‘Jeopardy!’ fired Mike Richards. But his time on the show isn’t over — yet
Although Sony fired Mike Richards, it is Richards who will be the ‘Jeopardy!’ host this week. Here’s what fans are saying
“Jeopardy!” hasn’t changed that much over the years.
“I love that the show is such a stalwart,” Ken Jennings told the Deseret News last year after winning the “Greatest of All Time” tournament. “Tonight’s episode of ‘Jeopardy!’ almost down to the second will be the same as an episode of ‘Jeopardy!’ from 1995 or 1985. They got it right the first time. And there’s just not a lot that’s like that in our culture, that never dumbed down or sped up.”
Perhaps that’s what makes the ongoing drama surrounding “Jeopardy!” all the more surprising — it’s unusual for a show that has largely remained the same for decades to be embroiled in so much controversy.
The chaos will likely intensify on Monday, when the 38th season of “Jeopardy!” premieres.
Although the show recently parted ways with Mike Richards — who stepped down as host just nine days after being named Alex Trebek’s successor — it is Richards who will be on TV, welcoming fans to a new era of “Jeopardy!”
Why is Mike Richards hosting ‘Jeopardy!’?
There was immediate backlash when Sony declared Richards would be taking over as host.
First, there was the fact that Richards had been the person initially tasked with leading out the search for a new host. By that logic, he was never really considered by fans to be a front-runner for the gig.
And then past disputes involving Richards on other game shows resurfaced, including discrimination lawsuits that emerged during his time as executive producer of “The Price Is Right,” the Deseret News reported.
But the final straw appeared to be when other past controversies — including Richards’ “offensive language” and disparaging remarks about women’s bodies on a podcast — resurfaced in a report from The Ringer.
“We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past,” Sony said in a statement to the Deseret News last month.
Richards stepped down as “Jeopardy!” host on Aug. 20 — just two days after the report from The Ringer.
“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,” he said in a statement, the Deseret News reported. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
But taping for the new season of “Jeopardy!” had already begun when Richards declared his resignation. Prior to stepping down, Richards filmed for a full day as host — a week’s worth of shows.
A source with Sony recently told the Deseret News that the five episodes Richards taped as host will air as originally scheduled, running from Sept. 13 through Sept. 17.
But those episodes will likely mark Richards’ final moments with the beloved quiz show.
Although Sony had initially planned to keep Richards on in his role as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” the company severed ties with him on Aug. 31.
“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,” “Jeopardy!” staff learned in an internal memo sent to the Deseret News. “That clearly has not happened.
“Mike will no longer be serving as EP of ‘Wheel’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ effective immediately.”
‘Jeopardy!’ fans react to Mike Richards hosting
In addition to seeing Richards on the new season of “Jeopardy!” starting Monday, fans will also see the return of contestant Matt Amodio, a graduate student at Yale University who brought Season 37 to an end last month by securing his 18th win.
That winning streak makes Amodio the third-highest winning contestant during the show’s regular season, behind “Jeopardy!” greats Jennings and James Holzhauer, the Deseret News reported.
Ahead of the season premiere, “Jeopardy!” has emphasized Amodio’s winning streak over Richards’ hosting — in a recently released promo for the new season, there is absolutely no sign of Richards.
Also competing on “Jeopardy!” this week is Samit Sarkar, the deputy managing editor for Polygon, who recently shared on Twitter that he had the “dubious distinction of being 1 of the 11 contestants in history to have taped with Mike Richards as ‘permanent’ host.”
I'm proud to announce that I'll be on the Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, episode of @Jeopardy!— Samit Sarkar (@SamitSarkar) September 7, 2021
That's during the first week of the new season — so yes, I have the dubious distinction of being 1 of the 11 contestants in history to have taped with Mike Richards as "permanent" host. 🙃
Before the season premiere Monday, “Jeopardy!” fans began sharing their thoughts in anticipation of seeing Richards host:
Jeopardy is doing the right thing by airing the Mike Richards episodes. The current Jeopardy champion is one of the best ever. You can't just pretend the games he competed in didn't happen because the host never should have been chosen. https://t.co/5KO4tK0eeg— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) September 13, 2021
Mike Richards begins his 1-week stint as “permanent” host of Jeopardy! today, and I for one am super stoked to see how they edited these games to deemphasize him as much as possible.— Fibromarxalgia ☭ (@comedyunism) September 13, 2021
As #Jeopardy returns today, remember, Mike Richards has already been completely fired. Still watch his week of shows to support the contestants who had probably long dreamed of competing. Don't punish them because Richards is garbage. This wasn't their fault.#BETEO— Brodie (@BrodieMann) September 13, 2021
What happens on ‘Jeopardy!’ after Mike Richards’ episodes?
After Richards’ episodes, neuroscientist and “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik — who was originally hired to host primetime and spin-off specials of “Jeopardy!” — will host the regular show for three weeks (15 episodes).
Following a season that saw 16 guest hosts, Jeopardy!” will continue to announce guest hosts going forward in the new season, the Deseret News reported.
The quiz show has a number of guest host contenders who would gladly take on the hosting position full time. According to CNN, Bialik is reportedly being considered for the role of permanent host, while other fan favorites, like Jennings, Buzzy Cohen, LeVar Burton and Aaron Rodgers, have also expressed interest in hosting permanently, according to the Deseret News.