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Why Beauty and the Geek’s host quit as Jeopardy’s new host after one day

Why Beauty and the Geek’s host quit as Jeopardy’s new host after one day

Update, Friday, Aug. 20: Former Beauty and the Geek and High School Reunion host Mike Richards quit as host of Jeopardy, the game show that he still executive produces, after filming one day’s worth of episodes for the show’s upcoming season.

In a letter to staff, Richards said he “was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show” but “moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans.” He also wrote, “It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter.” He did not mention the pain his past comments, which were directed at his co-host and others, may have caused.

Richards’ resignation came two days after an investigative report in The Ringer revealed what the ADL summarized as “disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians” in his podcast. Richards deleted the podcast after The Ringer‘s Claire McNear asked about them, and said in a statement “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.”

McNear, who literally wrote the book on Jeopardy!, also revealed that “staff morale has deteriorated under Richards’s watch” both at Jeopardy and previous positions.

All of that followed news of multiple lawsuits during his tenure as executive producer of The Price is Right when “models accused producers of discrimination and harassment,” according to The Daily Beast. And, of course, Richards led the process to pick Alex Trebek’s successor, as The New York Times detailed.

Earlier, Aug. 5: With several strong candidates to succeed Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy, including Mayim Bialik and LeVar Burton, and also some pretty terrible options (like Dr. Oz), Sony Pictures Television is reportedly about to hand the game show over to the former host of The WB’s High School Reunion and the second host of The WB’s Beauty and the Geek.

Perhaps it was inevitable that someone connected to reality TV would be cast. Several of the guest hosts have reality TV experience: Anderson Cooper is, of course, former host of The Mole, before leaving for CNN even despite literally dancing and singing “I love this game” during season two.

Former Mole host Anderson Cooper guest hosts Jeopardy!
Former Mole host Anderson Cooper guest hosts Jeopardy! (Photo by Sony Pictures Television)

Bialik guest judged Masterchef Junior guest judge and has appeared on Drop the Mic and Match Game, and Katie Couric interviewed me and the stars of Duck Dynasty on the same episode of her daytime talk show, before it was cancelled, and no wonder with that lineup of guests.

And the pipeline has gone in the opposite direction, too: Jeff Probst hosted Rock & Roll Jeopardy!—in addition to acting in hundreds of commercials—before hosting Survivor. And Survivor was recently a category on Jeopardy.

Jeopardy’s reported new host: Beauty and the Geek’s Mike Richards

Mike Richards hosts a mock game show as part of the Beauty and the Geek season 5 premiere on The CW.
Mike Richards hosts a mock game show as part of the Beauty and the Geek season 5 premiere on The CW.

Variety reported that Mike Richards “is in advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television to become permanent host of the venerable quiz show” while “A Sony Pictures spokesman said discussions were ongoing with several potential candidates” and “other candidates remain in the mix, although Richards is clearly the front-runner.”

Richards is a Daytime Emmy-winner who has been a host and producer of unscripted shows for the past two decades.

Update: Aug. 11, 2:40 p.m.: Sony officially announced that Mike Richards will host Jeopardy, while Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy’s prime-time specials and spin-off series. In a press release announcing that he’d now host the show he produces, Richards said:

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy!. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude. I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show. I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love. I am thrilled that Mayim is joining the Jeopardy! team. Her academic track record and enthusiasm for the game made her a terrific guest host. It will be a privilege to produce the primetime series with her as host.” 

Mayim Bialik said:

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family. What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I’m so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I’m just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we’ve had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!”

Earlier: While Brian McFayden hosted Beauty and the Geek’s first season in 2005, Richards took over in season two, and hosted until it was cancelled after season five. The Ashton Kutcher-produced show was a take on The Bachelor’s format, but cast with a group of socially awkward men and a group of intellectually awkward women—or at least, that’s what the show’s editing wanted us to believe.

Richards also hosted the Mike Fleiss-created show High School Reunion, which reunited adults who went to the same high school for some Bachelor-style drama.

Since then, he’s hosted GSN’s game shows Pyramid and Divided.

Last year, Richards started as executive producer both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, which means he may be doing a reverse Jeff Probst in two ways: going from reality TV to Jeopardy! and becoming host of the show he currently produces, while Jeff Probst went from Rock & Roll Jeopardy! to reality TV and from host to executive producer/showrunner.

Mike Richards guest hosting Jeopardy!, the show he now executive produces.
Mike Richards guest hosting Jeopardy!, the show he now executive produces. (Photo by Sony Pictures Television)

Jeopardy’s bio for Richards highlights both his on-camera and behind-the-scenes work:

Before taking the reins at “Wheel of Fortune” and Jeopardy!, Richards spent more than 10 years as executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” He started as co-executive producer of “The Price Is Right” in 2008 and a year later, became executive producer. That same year, 2009, Richards helped sell the classic game show franchise “Let’s Make a Deal” to CBS. During his tenure as executive producer of the two shows, which aired concurrently, he earned 17 Daytime Emmy Awards nominations and won three: “The Price Is Right” brought home the award for Outstanding Game Show at the 2013, 2016 and 2018 ceremonies.

Most recently, he served as executive producer of the 2020 celebrity-driven revival of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” as part of an overall deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop and produce game shows for network, cable and streaming platforms.

Throughout his career, Richards has produced a wide range of programs, including talk shows, dating shows, celebrity shows, reality shows, clips’ shows, game shows and cable news. Early on, Richards worked for television legend Dick Clark as his vice president of development and current programs. During his time with Clark, he produced several awards shows and prime-time shows and was a correspondent on “The American Music Awards” and “Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

In addition to his work behind the scenes, Richards has experience in front of the camera. After graduating college, Richards was a stand-up comedian, which led to offers to serve as a host for multiple pilots. He hosted the WB’s “High School Reunion,” and later was the host of the reality phenomenon “Beauty and the Geek” for the CW. During that time, he also hosted a movie news show called “Dailies” that launched the Reelz channel. More recently, he hosted the 2012 revival of “The Pyramid” and the Game Show Network’s 2016-2017 version of “Divided,” which was part game show and part social experiment.

This story and headline were updated on Aug. 11, 2021, after Sony announced Mike Richards as Jeopardy! host.

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