Jeopardy! host out nine days after appointment over past sexism

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Quiz show Jeopardy! was on the hunt for another new host Friday when Mike Richards resigned just nine days after getting the job.

Richards had been lined up to replace Alex Trebek, who died of cancer last year, but had was a controversial choice because of his past involvement in employment discrimination lawsuits filed by women.

Days after he was appointed, reports emerged of disparaging comments about women that he made on a podcast eight years ago, heaping pressure on the 46-year-old and his bosses at Sony Pictures Television.

"It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter," Richards said in a note to staff, seen by AFP.

"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."

Sports and pop culture website reported this week that it had trawled through episodes of "The Randumb Show," a podcast Richards hosted in 2013-14, finding a number of comments relating to women and nudity.

A Sony Pictures Television spokesperson said Friday the company supported Richards' decision to step down.

"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 spokesperson 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 (executive producer) he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect."

Richards had been due to share hosting duties with "The Big Bang Theory" alum Mayim Bialik.

She was appointed to front the primetime events and special spin-offs while he was given the regular syndicated shows.

Their appointments had apparently ended a long hunt for a host after Trebek's much-mourned death, which saw producers scroll through a Who's Who of American celebrity life that included top journalists and sport stars.

That search was back on Friday, Richards said, with details of the roster of guest hosts to be announced next week.