Hollywood Responds to Mike Richards Stepping Down as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host With Calls to Hire LeVar Burton

Hollywood Responds to Mike Richards Stepping Down as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host With Calls to Hire LeVar Burton

BY ABBEY WHITE | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren for CNT #Entertainment

Ryan Reynolds, Yvette Nicole Brown, Keith Olbermann and Roxane Gay were among those who reacted to the news of Richards’ departure and Sony’s decision to pass over Burton.

Entertainment and media figures are responding to the news that Jeopardy! is once again searching for a new host following executive producer Mike Richards’ announcement that he would be stepping down from the role a week after he was selected to take over for longtime host Alex Trebek.

On Friday, producer Sony Pictures Television announced Richards was stepping downfollowing a number of controversies that emerged during his brief hosting tenure. That includes a discrimination lawsuit while he was working as an executive producer of The Price Is Right and derogatory and disparaging comments made on his podcast, The Randumb Show, which ran from 2013 to 2014.

In a statement, Sony said, “We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. 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.”

Now, Hollywood is reacting to the new search, with many pointing to Star Trek and Rootsactor slash Reading Rainbow icon LeVar Burton for the role. Burton was among those being considered in the initial search to replace Trebek, who died in November following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

In a tweet, Ryan Reynolds referenced his own journey with Deadpool to show his support of Burton taking the Jeopardy! hosting mantle. “Pretty consistently from 2013 to 2015 Deadpool would explode on Twitter with fans wanting me to play him. It was awkward because I agreed with them but the studio didn’t see it. Ultimately the fans won and the rest is glorious history. I’m forever grateful. Hi @levarburton,” he tweeted. 

Burton tweeted soon after the news broke with one of his regular “Happy Friday!” messages, which social media immediately responded to, including Wynonna Earp showrunner Emily Andras, who among several wide-ranging replies, told Burton to “Treat yourself today, baby, you deserve it.”

Former Jeopardy! contestant Arthur Chu shared a funny anecdote about Trebek and his time as host following news of Richards’ departure. “I’m just gonna say that Alex Trebek was the host for literally my entire life and the biggest scandal I remember with him was when that Kids’ Jeopardy contestant spelled an answer wrong on Final Jeopardy and Alex wouldn’t just let him have it even though he was really sad.”

Meanwhile, fellow contestant James Holzhauer offered more direct comedic commentary. “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,” he said.

While many signaled support for Burton specifically, others also called out Sony’s vetting process and decision to go with Richards despite allegations from the 2010 bias lawsuit from his time with The Price Is Right as well as his initial involvement in the hiring process.

Actress and host Yvette Nicole Brown was among the first to respond to the news of Richards’ exit, calling out the studio and declaring a fair process should have been afforded to everyone in the running. Questions by social media users have been raised regarding Jeopardy!’s decision to have Burton host the week of the Olympics, when most eyes would have been on the international games.

“NONE of this had to happen. A FAIR process creating an EVEN playing field and EQUAL chance for EVERYONE to shine is all it took,” she said in one tweet. In another, she responded to a fan suggesting she’d like to throw her hat in the ring, pointing to Burton’s treatment during the audition process. “This was never about me. I don’t want to host @jeopardy. I just wanted everyone worthy to get a fair shot if they wanted the gig. Some got a fair shot, others *cough* @LeVarBurton did not.”

In a thread, literary icon and best-selling author Roxane Gay suggested she might even write about the debacle and Burton’s treatment during Sony’s search process. “I think I might write an essay about this but… it shouldn’t be this hard for @levarburton to receive serious consideration as @Jeopardy host. He isn’t some random idea people have. He taught generations of children to read. He has real depth. He is charming and handsome.”

She went on to tweet that she couldn’t think of a “more universally adored public figure” and yet fans had to create petitions, relentless campaigning on his behalf. She concluded, “All the while, a bland white guy with a messy history of bad behavior doesn’t audition and slides right into the job and right back out. This is unnecessary! It’s ridiculous! And it’s very typical.”

Sports commentator Keith Olbermann’s response was more short and sweet. “So sometimes you DON’T get away with it #Jeopardy,” he tweeted. 

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By Troy Warren

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