Mayim Bialik to Fill in as Interim Jeopardy! Host After Mike Richards Exits amid Controversy
Bialik, who was also recently announced as the host for the Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series, will take the podium this week in Richards' absence, a spokesperson for Sony Pictures Television confirms to PEOPLE.
The Big Bang Theory alum, 45, is currently scheduled to tape three weeks-worth of episodes — 15 total — when filming resumes this week. Additional guest hosts will be announced as production continues on the upcoming 38th season of the beloved quiz show, premiering Sept. 13.
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On Friday, however, Richards told staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE that he was stepping down from the hosting gig after clips resurfaced featuring him making disparaging comments about women and other marginalized groups.
The controversy surrounding Richards stemmed from a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show, which at the time was touted as a behind-the-scenes look at his then-workplace The Price Is Right, according to an article published by The Ringer on Aug. 18.
Throughout the podcast's 41-episode run, from which the outlet recorded and published a series of audio clips, Richards made multiple inappropriate comments about women, including calling his podcast co-host and former assistant Beth Triffon a "booth ho" and a "booth slut" when discussing her work as a model at the CES trade show.
In addition to making offensive comments about women, The Ringer reported that Richards used a derogatory term for little people and a slur for people with mental disabilities and made belittling remarks about people's economic status during conversations on the podcast.
He also made a comment on the podcast tying Jewish people to big noses, prompting the Anti-Defamation League to call for an investigation into his behavior.
In his memo to staffers, Richards expressed that it "pains" him that his "past incidents" have "cast such a shadow on Jeopardy!"
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He also apologized for his past comments in a statement provided to PEOPLE prior to the news of his exit, saying in part, "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."
He added: "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."
Although Richards is no longer the host of Jeopardy!, the show is set to air episodes that he taped before his departure on Friday, PEOPLE previously confirmed. Five episodes were filmed on Thursday and will air as scheduled. Richards will also remain on as Jeopardy!'s executive producer.
Jeopardy!'s 38th season premieres on Sept. 13.