Ousted Jeopardy! host Mike Richards also out as executive producer, Sony exec says

Mike Richards, the producer once chosen to succeed Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!, will no longer be serving as executive producer on Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune, effective immediately. 

A Sony Pictures Television executive for both shows confirmed the move on Tuesday afternoon in an email statement to Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune staff.

“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,” Suzanne Prete, the executive vice-president for business and strategy for both game shows, said in an email to staff. 

“That clearly has not happened.”

Controversial remarks surfaced

Richards was chosen as the successor to Trebek on Aug. 11, a decision seen as divisive from the beginning after the show had embarked on a broad search for a new host that included actors, sports figures, journalists and celebrities.

Not long after he was named as the host, revelations that Richards had made demeaning comments about women, the homeless and others on a podcast from 2013-2014 surfaced in an article on pop culture website The Ringer.

The backlash culminated in Richards stepping down as host of the program earlier this month after taping multiple episodes of Jeopardy!, which will air as scheduled to maintain continuity with the contestants who won.

At the time, Richards said in a resignation note that he would remain as the executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, a role he has held since May 2020.

According to Prete’s Tuesday statement, Michael Davies, the founder of Sony Pictures Television’s bi-coastal production company Embassy Row, will help with production on an interim basis until further notice. 

Prete also noted that she herself would be more involved in the day-to-day running of both shows moving forward.

Bialik filling in as host

Actress Mayim Bialik has been filling in as the host of syndicated episodes since Richards’ exit as host. 

Sony Pictures Television announced last week that Bialik had been scheduled to tape three weeks of episodes when production resumed for a total 15 episodes. Additional guest hosts will be announced at a later date.

Bialik was previously slated to split duties with Richards, hosting Jeopardy!’s prime-time and spinoff series, while Richards was to serve as the permanent host of the syndicated game show. 

Richards and Bialik were two of the guests hosts for Jeopardy! as the show sought a permanent replacement for Trebek, who died in November 2020 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Other guest hosts included LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Aaron Rodgers and former Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings.

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