An Awkward On-Set ‘Jeopardy!’ Encounter May Have Been The Nail In The Coffin For Mike Richards’ Hosting Gig

Mike Richards is no longer the full-time host of Jeopardy!, a job he officially had for about one day before he abruptly quit after a singly day’s taping. That was not without justification, though, following a slew of controversy about past lawsuits and disturbing comments about women’s appearances and religious beliefs.

The show’s executive producer rising to host was supposed to be the start of a new era for the syndicated game show. Instead, it’s been a weeks-long disaster that’s marred the legacy of the show helmed for decades by the late Alex Trebek. And according to the New York Times, a final tribute to Trebek may have been the reason Richards decided to call it quits on Friday.

Thursday was the official start of taping for Season 38 of the show, with Richards getting in his first games as full-time host. But things on set were tense, and reportedly a meeting where grievances were aired about Richards’ behavior and controversies occurred to kick off a very strange day on set. But a ceremony to honor Trebek before the taping began also brought in a number of other guest hosts, including Jeopardy! GOAT (and presumptive pick of Trebek to take over) Ken Jennings. Which made things awkward on set to say the least.

A group of “Jeopardy!” loyalists had gathered for a ceremony to rename the show’s studio after Mr. Trebek, including Mr. Trebek’s widow, his children and Anthony Vinciquerra, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s chief executive. Mr. Richards and Ms. Bialik were there, along with two of the other contenders for the hosting job, the former contestants Buzzy Cohen and Ken Jennings, according to three people familiar with the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Afterward, the people said, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Jennings had expected to attend Mr. Richards’s debut taping. Instead, they were escorted from the sound stage to a nearby green room, where they watched the taping over a closed feed. They were told that Mr. Richards was too nervous to have them in the studio, the people said.

One of the people likened it to inviting Joe DiMaggio back to Yankee Stadium and then not letting him in the dugout.

According to the story, Sony said it was coronavirus mitigation protocols that limited the number of people that could be in the studio for the taping. But it’s yet another instance of odd interactions that have come with Richards’ ascent to control of the show after he was named an executive producer shortly before Trebek’s death.

This particular anecdote will likely go down as the final odd power play from the Richards era. But it’s certainly a good example of just how strange the last few weeks have been in a very odd year for Jeopardy!

[via NY Times]