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Newly appointed Jeopardy! host Mike Richards made several disparaging comments about women in newly resurfaced podcast episodes.
The iconic game show’s executive producer — who was controversially named its permanent syndicated daytime show host last week — was recorded mocking women’s weight, calling one model a “booth slut” and repeatedly praising “the average white-guy host.”
As first reported by The Ringer, Richards hosted a podcast from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show, billed as a behind-the-scenes look at The Price Is Right, during which time he was serving as executive producer on that show. In a segment where his co-host and former assistant Beth Triffon discussed working as a model at CES, he dubbed her a “booth ho,” “booth slut” and “boothstitute.” In another episode, Richards discusses a photo of Triffon and her friends, calling her friends “really frumpy and overweight” and saying, “They all look terrible in the picture. … They look fat and not good.”
The comments seemingly echo the attitudes Richards was accused of having by former models on The Price Is Right in bias lawsuits, accusations he recently dismissed by saying, “These complaints [do] not reflect the reality of who I am.”
During the podcast, Richards also reportedly used the derogatory word for little people and a derogatory term for the mentally disabled.
Twice during the podcast he also singled out white male hosts for praise, seemingly only because they were white and male, and he assumed that therefore he could get a hosting job, too.
“Jeff Probst had a daytime talk show, which I was cheering for because I like, you know, the average white-guy host,” he said. “I cheer for him to succeed because I feel like through his success I could have some success hosting.” Then later, when discussing former American Idol host Ryan Seacrest: “I think he’s actually made the world a safer place for what I like to call the skinny white host, like George [Gray] and I.”
In another moment, Richards reportedly described himself as “horrible at all trivia,” and rather ironically stated, “I never would have gotten on Jeopardy!”
The Hollywood Reporter obtained a statement Richards issued about the podcast comments: “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” he said. “Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. 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.”
Jeopardy! producers Sony Pictures Television said they were unaware of the podcast until yesterday and had no further comment at this time.
Sony announced Richards as the successor to the late Alex Trebek last week. In addition, the studio announced that Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will serve as the host of Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series.
Richards was a surprise choice after a long list of better-known guest host candidates tried out, and Sony has been criticized for seemingly letting the show’s executive producer help lead the hunt for a new host, which turned out to be himself.
Other guest hosts included fan-favorite LeVar Burton, former Jeopardy! champs David Faber, Buzzy Cohen and Ken Jennings, as well as Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper, Bialik, Aaron Rodgers, Dr. Oz, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts and Joe Buck.
“We took this decision incredibly seriously,” said Ravi Ahuja, chairman of global television studios and corporate development for Sony Pictures. “A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show — deservedly so because it’s Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers. We knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities, and it became very clear that Mike and Mayim were the undeniable choices. They were both at the top of our research and analysis. Mike is a unique talent, at ease behind the podium and a double threat as producer and host.”
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