Richards — who may or may not have appointed himself — was officially named as Trebek's replacement last week. Sony's announcement came amid resurfaced reports the longtime EP helped fuel a misogynistic and toxic work culture on The Price Is Right. Richards denied past discrimination claims but is coming under fire again as The Ringer unearthed sexist comments he made on an old podcast. The unnecessary drama is causing a lot of fans to wonder if this is what Trebek would have wanted.
The legendary host actually named some potential successors in a 2018 interview that's going viral on Thursday. While speaking with TMZ, Trebek specifically mentioned two possible hosts: L.A. Kings hockey announcer Alex Faust and CNN's Laura Coates.
It's irony of Coates's omission from Jeopardy!'s rotating lineup of guest hosts that's not lost on many — especially as only one Black woman, Robin Roberts, made the cut.
I love Alex, an earthly angelic man. I hate how they're disrespecting him. He spent a lifetime honoring Jeopardy, with zero controversies, and this is what happens after he dies? Laura Coates deserves her moment in Jeopardy. She was his crowned princess.
— IntheCut-CM (@inthecutcm) August 19, 2021
— KD (@Fly_Sistah) August 19, 2021
— Lisa Hamner (@lisa_hamner) August 19, 2021
Thank you!!!! I love LeVar but Laura Coates wasn't even asked to guest host and she is who Alex wanted as his replacement.
— Denise White 🇨🇦 (@deeporter_white) August 19, 2021
Coates offered a subtle comment amid the uproar.
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) August 19, 2021
There's a possibility why Richards wasn't on Trebek's list in 2018. While it's highly likely they knew each other, the two didn't overlap much on Jeopardy!. According to the New York Times, when Richards replaced Trebek's longtime colleague, Harry Friedman, in May 2020, he was only on set for 15 shoot days before Trebek stepped aside. That was 10 days before the pop culture icon passed away.
After Richards's old podcast made headlines on Wednesday — in which he called his cohost a "booth ho," "booth slut," and "boothstitute," — the embattled producer issued an apology.
"It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry," he said. "The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them."
A spokesperson for Sony declined to comment, but a source from the studio told The Ringer no one was aware of the podcast's existence or the episodes' removal until being notified.
As Richards began filming the show on Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League called for a deep-dive into his past comments: "New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards' disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter. Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation."
New “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards' disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter.
Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm.
This reported pattern warrants an investigation. https://t.co/0D8D7441vU
— ADL (@ADL) August 19, 2021
Trebek, who died in November 2020 from pancreatic cancer, wrote in last year's memoir The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life, that Jeopardy! is bigger than its host.
"And Jeopardy! will be just fine. It doesn't matter who's the host. It's a quality program. Look at The Price Is Right. When Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker, so many people said the show would never survive. It's still a success. There are other hosts out there who can do equally as good a job as me. I think Jeopardy! can go on forever."
Yikes, this #Jeopardy replacement is not going over well. Let's hope what Alex Trebek wrote in his 2020 memoir "The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life" is true, that "it doesn't matter who's the host." https://t.co/eCL0noGvPs pic.twitter.com/KCgT1PFLgF
— Victoria Ahearn (@VictoriaAhearn) August 11, 2021
That remains to be seen.