Richards has been scrutinized over earlier allegations of a hostile work environment, as well as inappropriate comments he made about women on a podcast he once hosted.



"Jeopardy's" new-host search continues. I know you thought it had just ended. In a splashy announcement last week, Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, was named one of the two new successors to the late Alex Trebek. A seasoned veteran of the game show business and also an on-air and behind-the-scenes veteran, Richards seemed like a safe, reliable choice, but controversial comments he made about female colleagues in the past became even more of a problem when audio recordings from past podcasts went viral this week. Earlier today, Richards resigned before he even began. Joining us now is NPR's Eric Deggans. Eric, so what did Mike Richards say in his resignation letter?

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Basically, this letter was a note to the staff that was released by Sony Pictures. And it basically said that he felt that the controversies had become too much of a distraction for the fans and, quote, "not the right move for the show." So he announced he'd be stepping down as host effective immediately. They're going to resume their search for a guest host - or they're going to resume their search for a permanent host. And they're going to develop a roster of guest hosts that they will announce next week.

MARTINEZ: Why had there been a lot of debate over the choice of Mike Richards to begin with?

DEGGANS: Well, he was executive producer of the show. And there seemed to be a great show made of bringing on guest hosts, some of whom at least seemed to be contenders for the main job. And to audition this wide range of people - there were women and people of color included; there was a fan initiative that got LeVar Burton, for example, added to the roster of guest host because he was a favorite of many fans of the show and people watching this process - to go through all of that and then pick the guy who, ostensibly, was in charge of finding (laughter) the placement...


DEGGANS: ...I think some people felt maybe that process wasn't as fair as it could have been.

MARTINEZ: And Aaron Rodgers might not be the Packers quarterback right now if the process had been different.


MARTINEZ: The comments that Richard made that went viral - they're recordings from past podcast conversations. What did he say there?

DEGGANS: Well, he was joking - he was making jokes that referred to the weight and the appearance of some women. He made a joke that referenced something about being Jewish that also was very insulting. You know, these were the kind of comments. And they connected to the fact that, you know, Mike Richards was also executive producer of "The Price Is Right." That show was - faced several lawsuits from women who worked on the show who said that they were discriminated against when they got pregnant. And so there was already this question about, you know, how does he develop a workplace that's friendly to women or that deals with women? And then to have this podcast come out where he said these kinds of comments just added to the controversy.

MARTINEZ: Quickly, where does the show go from here?

DEGGANS: They've got to find a new permanent host, and I think they've got to pay more attention to what people watching the process think about what they've done. They can't just bring in an insider. They have to really pay attention. People seemed to indicate that they wanted diversity and they wanted a sense that they were paying attention to who the fans like. Mayim Bialik was chosen to sort of be a backup host and host specials and things like that. Perhaps she could step up. We'll see. They have to refine their process and make it better.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Eric Deggans. Eric, thanks.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tags: Jeopardy