After a short and tumultuous reign as executive producer and an even shorter reign as host, Mike Richards is out at Sony Pictures Television’s Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, Suzanne Prete, SPT’s senior vice president of global licensing and brand management of game shows and games, told the staff Tuesday.
“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 wrote. “That clearly has not happened.”
Embassy Row’s Michael Davies, who created and executive produced Who Wants to be a Millionaire, will serve as executive producer on an interim basis. SPT acquired Embassy Row in 2009.
Richards joined Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune as executive producer in 2019 as long-time EP Harry Friedman was preparing to retire. Richards took over both shows in May 2020, a few months before longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek succumbed to pancreatic cancer in November 2020.
Over the course of 2021, Jeopardy! tried out many guest hosts, including Richards. Two of those guest hosts who are likely back in the mix for the full-time job are Ken Jennings, winner of ABC’s Greatest Player of All Time primetime Jeopardy! tournament, guest-hosted for the first six weeks the show was back on the air after Trebek’s death and is now a consulting producer on the show, and Call Me Kat’s Mayim Bialik, who has been named host of Jeopardy! primetime specials and spinoffs, including next year’s college tournament on ABC.
Earlier this month, news broke that Richards would be the show’s new permanent host, and almost immediately after that, reports started surfacing that he had been part of discrimination lawsuits that were eventually settled while he was executive producer of Fremantle’s The Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal, which air in daytime on CBS. It also emerged that Richards had made objectionable comments about women on a podcast he did in 2013 and 2014, according to reporting by The Ringer’s Claire McNear.
As a result, Richards stepped down from the host position, but remained as executive producer on both shows. The uproar did not die down, and this morning, Richards exited his job altogether.
The full text of the memo that went out this morning is below:
I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately. 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. That clearly has not happened.
Michael Davies from Embassy Row has agreed to help with production on an interim basis until further notice. Michael and I will work together with all of you in the weeks ahead to ensure that production remains on schedule and we do not miss a beat as we head into the new season.
I know this has been a challenging time for the entire team, and I want to thank you all for your cooperation and professionalism over these last few weeks. As Ravi mentioned last week, I will be more involved in the day-to-day on our shows moving forward and I am looking forward to working closely with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.