Alex Trebek, Longtime Host of ‘Jeopardy!,’ Dies at 80

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Alex Trebek's 'last great' Jeopardy! champ Brayden Smith dead at 24
Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:Feb 14, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 3 minute read

Five-time Jeopardy! champion Brayden Smith died unexpectedly at 24, his mother announced on Twitter. PHOTO BY TWITTER
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Brayden Smith, one of the last champions to feature on some of the final episodes of Jeopardy! that were hosted by the late Alex Trebek, has died suddenly at age 24.

According to a social media post written by Brayden’s mom, Debbie, the Jeopardy! champ’s death was unexpected. But she expressed gratitude that the “voracious reader” was able to achieve his dream to appear on the quiz show.


“We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly,” Debbie’s post read. “We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream onJeopardy!”

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In a statement shared on Twitter, Jeopardy! producers wrote, “He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant.”

“I just wanted to stay there as long as possible,” Brayden said in a video released by Jeopardy! last month. He also revealed that he had hoped to appear as a contestant on the show’s Tournament of Champions.

“These people are my trivia idols, and to know that I’m going to be on the same metaphorical and literal stage that they were on is really something special.”

During his five-game winning streak, which was taped last October shortly before Trebek passed away from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Brayden earned the nickname “Billy Buzz Saw” and was known as the longtime host’s “last great champion.”

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“He did, I believe, really like Brayden, because he was young and kind of interesting, and funny in his own way,” executive producer Mike Richards told Entertainment Weekly. “I could tell that (Trebek) very much enjoyed that young man, and that was fun to watch. I think that energized him. It was like, ‘That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m putting myself through this.'”


Alex Trebek appears in one of the last episodes of Jeopardy! PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB /Twitter
“Jeopardy! is so much better than anything I could have imagined,” Brayden said. “It’s a great feeling to be around smart, nice, warm people … To finally be onstage with someone that I’ve seen five-nights-a-week, every week, for over a decade, was really a dream come true.”

But for Brayden, who pocketed over $115,000 during his time on the show, the best part of the Jeopardy! experience was getting a chance to spend time with Trebek.

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“Doing the questions and answers was almost incidental to spending time with someone who I cherished in my life for such a long period of time,” Brayden said in an interview. “In these last few months, I think back on it all the time and really savour each moment I got to have with him … Just talking to him, person-to-person, was really great.”

He also commended Trebek for continuing to tape the show while undergoing cancer treatments.

“To put on a brave face and go out there every day and continue to give America and the world some good cheer, especially this year, was really a testament to how great of a person he was,” Brayden said.

An online obituary, noted that Brayden had hoped to attend law school and become an attorney for the U.S. government.

But he wasn’t just an intellectual who had his nose buried in textbooks. According to his obit, Brayden had a deep love of pop culture.

“He could be explaining the symbolism in Citizen Kane one moment and the comedic timing in Dumb and Dumber the next.”

mdaniell@postmedia.com
 

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Alex Trebek's widow feels 'waves of grief' after his death
Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:Apr 28, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Alex Trebek and wife Jean arrive at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards show in Las Vegas on June 19, 2011.
Alex Trebek and wife Jean arrive at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards show in Las Vegas on June 19, 2011. PHOTO BY ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ /Getty Images
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Jean Trebek is still having trouble coming to terms with the loss of her late husband, legendary Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

Jean spoke with Today co-host Savannah Guthrie as part of the Saturday prime-time special, Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List, and reflected on her partner, who died at age 80 in November following a battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.


“I absolutely have moments of waves of grief that just come over me, I miss him a lot,” Jean said in a clip, which was shared Wednesday morning.

Jean, who was married to Alex for 30 years, said that the couple was surprised by how many lives he had touched.

“I think one of the beautiful things, the blessings that came, if you can call it a blessing, was that he got to really see the outpouring of love and admiration that he gave to the world,” she said. “And some people just, you know, you don’t see that while you’re still embodied, you don’t get to really witness all the love that people feel for you. And I know that was in and of itself a huge inspiration for Alex.”

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Alex Trebek’s wife Jean shared a photo from their wedding following the Jeopardy! host’s death.
Alex Trebek’s wife Jean shared a photo from their wedding following the Jeopardy! host’s death. PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM.COM/JEANTREBEK
Elsewhere in her conversation with Guthrie, Jean recalled the Jeopardy! episode in which contestant Dhruv Gaur wagered $1,995 as he answered a Final Jeopardy question with: “What is, ‘We love you, Alex.'”

“When that contestant wrote that, you know, you could see him, like, ‘Oh, don’t make me cry here but I love it.’ And I think that meant the world to him,” Jean said.

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In his recent memoir, The Answer Is…Reflections On My Life, which was released last summer, Alex reflected on his romance with Jean.

“Sometimes you look at something, you look at someone, and you know. I mean, you’ve heard stories of people who meet and decide within half an hour; I knew this was going to be the person I’d end up with. With Jeanie that’s how it was. I wasn’t looking for love. But I recognized at a gut level that here was someone who was going to complete me as a human being,” he wrote.

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And in a conversation with People magazine in 2019, Alex spoke about his regret that he and Jean didn’t meet when they were younger.

“I’m pretty satisfied with my life,” he said. “But my wife Jean and I have been together almost 29 years, and I was thinking about President Bush when he died, and all the comments about his life about what a nice guy he is, and how he and his wife had been together 73 years. I thought, oh my gosh … if I’d just met Jean in my 20s we could have had a longer life together.”

The couple, who married in 1990, were parents to son Matthew, 30, and daughter Emily, 27.

Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on NBC

mdaniell@postmedia.com
 

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Jeopardy! contestant denies flashing white power sign
Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:May 03, 2021 • 20 hours ago • 2 minute read • 25 Comments
Kelly Donohue condemned white supremacy after he was accused of flashing a hand-gesture associated with white power groups.
Kelly Donohue condemned white supremacy after he was accused of flashing a hand-gesture associated with white power groups. PHOTO BY JEOPARDY
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Jeopardy! contestant Kelly Donohue has “unequivocally” denounced claims that he flashed a white supremacist hand gesture during an appearance on the quiz show last week.

Making his third appearance on the trivia competition, Donohue held up his right hand with three fingers outstretched while his forefinger and thumb formed an “OK” sign.


Some viewers at home immediately accused him of using a symbol that has been associated with different hate groups. But Donohue said he was “simply raising three fingers to mark my third win.”

“I’m truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media,” Donohue wrote on Facebook. “I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind. People who know me personally know that I am not a racist, but for the public at large it bears repeating: I am not a racist and I reject and condemn white supremacy and all forms of bigotry for the evil they are.”

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A letter published to Medium called on show producers to act on the alleged hand gesture.

“During his on-camera introduction, Kelly made a gesture with his hand that he has since claimed was an indication that he had won three games,” the letter reads.

It goes on to add, “This, whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been co-opted by white power groups, alt right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters … Regardless of his stated intent, the gesture is a racist dog whistle.”


In a since-deleted Facebook post addressing the controversy, Donohue said, “That’s a 3. No more. No less.”

The letter also noted that the Massachusetts state bank examiner responded to a clue from host Anderson Cooper with a term for the Roma people that is considered a slur, which the CNN host noted on air.

“I deeply regret this terrible misunderstanding,” Donohue added in his Facebook post. “I never meant to hurt a soul and I assure you I am no friend of racists or white supremacists.”

Jeopardy! reps didn’t respond to the controversy, but Donohue’s three-day winning streak came to end last Wednesday.

60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker takes over as guest host for the next two weeks.

mdaniell@postmedia.com
 

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'Jeopardy!' producer and incoming host Mike Richards apologizes for sexist podcast clips
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Michael Schneider
Publishing date:Aug 18, 2021 • 7 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
An undated handout photo of new "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show.
An undated handout photo of new "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show. PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON /Sony Pictures Entertainment/Handout via REUTERS
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LOS ANGELES — “Jeopardy!” executive producer and incoming host Mike Richards has apologized for derogatory comments he made about women on a podcast he hosted while also serving as executive producer of “The Price Is Right” as backlash to his selection grows and Sony Pictures Television’s hopes for a smooth transition fade.

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In response to a detailed reporting by The Ringer about comments he made on “The Randumb Show,” including referring to his co-host a “booth ho,” Richards said “there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry,” He called it “humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.”


It’s the latest chapter in ongoing backlash to the decision by Sony to name Richards as the successor to late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek. The Ringer found old episodes of “The Randumb Show,” a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014 and taped in his office as executive producer of “The Price Is Right.”

Details of litigation from the past decade during Richards’ time as executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal” have recently resurfaced and contributed to the uproar surrounding the surprise decision to name him “Jeopardy!” host.

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Richards was accused of pregnancy discrimination in two complaints filed by former “Price Is Right” models. He was accused of making insensitive statements and taking other questionable actions around models on the show who became pregnant.


The Ringer, which reviewed all 41 episodes of the podcast before they were deleted online, reported that Richards at one point asks his female assistant and his female co-host whether they had ever taken nude photos, or in his words, “booby pictures.” In one episode, he calls his co-host a “booth ho.”

Per The Ringer: “Women’s bodies and clothing are recurring subjects for Richards. On a 2013 episode, he says that women ‘dress like a hooker’ on Halloween; on another, he tells a story about a former Price employee who had taken up baking: ‘We said that we were going to have to saw her out of her room because she was going to be so giant that she wouldn’t be able to fit out the door.'”

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In his statement to the Ringer, which Sony also supplied to Variety, Richards said that the podcast “was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.” He said his attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable and that he has removed the episodes, pledging to live up to his obligations as a role model.

The podcast clips may add another wrinkle to Sony’s “Jeopardy!” unveil, given ongoing concerns over Richards’ involvement in potentially tipping the host search to his favor. It also raises questions about Sony’s vetting process for his selection.


Here is the statement in full: “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. 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.”
 

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'Jeopardy!' dumps Mike Richards as host over past sexist comments
'Too much of a distraction for our fans'

Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:Aug 20, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 4 minute read • 35 Comments
An undated handout photo of former "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show.
An undated handout photo of former "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show. PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON /Sony Pictures Entertainment/Handout via REUTERS
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A little over a week after he was selected to take the reins from the late Alex Trebrek as the new face of Jeopardy!, Mike Richards has been dropped by the popular quiz show.

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Richards, who also serves as the show’s executive producer, lost the gig after new details emerged about sexist remarks he made as host on a podcast called The Randumb Show seven years ago.


According to a report published in The Ringer, in an episode from Sept. 4, 2014, Richards, 46, was speaking to an assistant and his co-host — both women — and asked them if they had ever taken nude photos.

When his co-host, Beth Triffon, said that she had taken “cute pictures of myself,” Richards responded with, “Like booby pictures? What are we looking at?”

In another episode, The Ringer reported that Richards slammed one-piece swimsuits for making women look “really frumpy and overweight.”

Richards, who has been working in game shows as a producer and host, was also accused of making insensitive comments to a pregnant employee during his tenure as producer on The Price is Right.

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According to a review of all 41 episodes of The Randumb Show by The Ringer’s Claire McNear, it was found that Richards frequently made remarks about women and their bodies, as well as disparaging comments about Jewish people and the poor.

In response to The Ringer’s report, Richards said “there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”

But on Friday, Sony Pictures TV confirmed to Variety that Richards had agreed to step down as host. In a statement, Richards said the fallout from the new revelations created “too much of a distraction for our fans and (is) not the right move for the show.”

“As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately,” Richards wrote.

Sony said that Richards will remain on with the show as its executive producer. Mayim Bialik will host prime-time specials and Jeopardy! spinoffs, including a college championship tournament that will air next year.

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“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony wrote in a statement. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”


Richards said that the hunt for a permanent host will continue.

“In the meantime we will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season, details of which will be announced next week,” he said.

In his statement to The Ringer, Richards maintained that his comments on the podcast were “intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.”

But Richards’ selection was mired in controversy even before the sexist podcast clips were unearthed. According to the New York Times, Richards was instrumental in choosing which appearances by each prospective host was screened for focus groups.

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Ken Jennings, who was the show’s first guest host earlier this year and is the Greatest of All Time champ, told the Times that Richards was “the only person up there with any game show hosting chops.”

But he hinted that Trebek’s enduring appeal came from the fact that audiences knew very little of his private life.

“What was great about Alex was we didn’t know anything about him: He came into our homes every night and he hosted Jeopardy!”

Former Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer took a shot at Richards’ sudden exit tweeting, “I was really looking forward to the season premiere where after an exhaustive 61-clue search for the next Jeopardy champion, the show looks past the three obvious candidates and declares Mike Richards the winner.”

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After Richards was named as host, fans vented on social media that Trebek’s personal pick to take over — CNN legal analyst Laura Coates — wasn’t given a guest spot behind the lectern.

“I love Alex, an earthly angelic man. I hate how they’re disrespecting him. He spent a lifetime honouring Jeopardy, with zero controversies, and this is what happens after he dies? Laura Coates deserves her moment on Jeopardy! She was his crowned princess,” one fan tweeted.

Following the longtime host’s death last November, the show cycled in a roster of celebrity personalities, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, journalist and author Katie Couric, Dr. Oz, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and fan favourite LeVar Burton.

On Friday, though, Rodgers said he would have taken the job on a permanent basis, if offered.

“I definitely would have,” the Green Bay Packers football star said during an appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio. “If they would have figured out a way to make it work with my schedule, yeah, for sure.”

Meanwhile, a recent Morning Consult poll shared by Mediaite revealed that fans still wanted Burton to become the show’s permanent host.

After Richards stepped down, Burton tweeted, “Happy Friday, y’all!”

mdaniell@postmedia.com
 

Hoof Hearted

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Really??

They go back 7 years to an old Podcast to nail Mike Richards for some joke comments he made among friends?

The whole world is f*cked up, I tell ya.
 

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Ex-host Mike Richards out as executive producer of 'Jeopardy!'
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:Aug 31, 2021 • 11 hours ago • 1 minute read • 21 Comments
An undated handout photo of former "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show.
An undated handout photo of former "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show. PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON /Sony Pictures Entertainment/Handout via REUTERS
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LOS ANGELES — Mike Richards, who earlier this month stepped down as the new host of “Jeopardy!” after a backlash over past offensive comments, will no longer serve as executive producer of the long-running quiz show, Sony Pictures Television said on Tuesday.

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Richards also has given up producing duties at game show “Wheel of Fortune,” Sony Executive Vice President Suzanne Prete said in a memo released by the company.


“We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks,” Prete said. “That clearly has not happened.”

Richards had been appointed to replace legendary host Alex Trebek, who died in 2020 after more than three decades on the show. He stepped down from that role after online publication The Ringer reported on disparaging and sexist comments he made on a podcast. Richards apologized at the time for the negative attention brought to “Jeopardy!”.

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In this file photo taken on March 16, 2016 actress Mayim Bialik attends the The 33rd annual PaleyFest Los Angeles hosted by The Paley Center for Media, celebrating
Mayim Bialik stepping in as temporary ‘Jeopardy!’ host
An undated handout photo of former
‘Jeopardy!’ dumps Mike Richards as host over past sexist comments
An undated handout photo of new
‘Jeopardy!’ producer and incoming host Mike Richards apologizes for sexist podcast clips

Michael Davies, executive producer of game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” has stepped in as interim producer of “Jeopardy!,” Prete said in her memo.

“The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik is serving as guest host of daily “Jeopardy!” while Sony searches for a permanent replacement. She also was tapped to host Jeopardy! special events including its college tournament.
 

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Former Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer cheers Mike Richards' firing: 'THE WITCH IS DEAD!'
Author of the article:Mark Daniell
Publishing date:Sep 01, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 2 minute read • 5 Comments
James Holzhauer on an episode of "Jeopardy!"
James Holzhauer on an episode of "Jeopardy!" Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via AP
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You can definitely count former Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer among those who are happy that the show’s executive producer Mike Richards has been fired.

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After Richards was dropped for past offensive comments, Holzhauer, who went on a 32-game winning streak in 2019, took a swipe at his unceremonious departure.


“Do I think Mike Richards’ podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No,” Holzhauer tweeted. “But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy!? Also no.”


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Holzhauer also shared a GIF from The Wizard of Oz with the words, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!”


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His dislike of Richards was clearly personal as he added in a follow-up post, “Some judged Mike Richards solely on his podcast comments and formed a negative opinion, but I judged him by the way he treated people backstage at Jeopardy! and formed a much stronger negative opinion.”


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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Richards’ tenure at his previous game show, The Price is Right, was mired in controversy behind the scenes after longtime host Bob Barker ended his 35-year run in June 2007.

“He’s one of the reasons I left,” Claire Sawidziak, who worked as a staging supervisor on Price from 2011 to 2015, said.

Richards, who was selected to front Jeopardy! after a months-long search to replace the late Alex Trebek, was dumped as the program’s new host last month after new details emerged about sexist remarks he made as host on a podcast called The Randumb Show several years ago.

An undated handout photo of former “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards.
An undated handout photo of former “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards. PHOTO BY CAROL KAELSON /Sony Pictures Entertainment/Handout via REUTERS
According to a review of all 41 episodes of The Randumb Show by The Ringer’s Claire McNear, it was found that Richards frequently made remarks about women and their bodies, as well as disparaging comments about Jewish people and the poor.

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After announcing he was stepping aside, Sony Pictures TV maintained that Richards would stay on as executive producer.

But Tuesday, Suzanne Prete, executive vice president for business and strategy for both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, which Richards also produces, announced the TV veteran would be relieved of his duties.

“We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks,” Prete said. “That clearly has not happened.”

In a statement to The Ringer, Richards maintained that his comments on the podcast were “intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.”

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He added he was “deeply sorry” in follow-up remarks to Fox News.

“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgement, 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.”

But Richards’ selection to take over from the beloved Trebek was a point of contention even before the sexist podcast clips were unearthed. According to the New York Times, Richards, who had long dreamed of hosting his own game show, was instrumental in choosing which appearances by each prospective host was screened for focus groups.

mdaniell@postmedia.com