Mike Richards out as EP of ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel’ after already quitting as quiz show’s host
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Mike Richards, who rose to infamy as the choice to replace Alex Trebek on “Jeopardy!” — only to quit after taping just five episodes, is out as executive producer of the famous syndicated quiz show and “Wheel of Fortune.”
Richards took over both shows from the retiring Harry Friedman in 2019.
After Trebek died in late 2020, Richards initially said that Sony Pictures Television, which owns the show, would make the final call on the replacement host and that the show would feature a lineup of guest hosts as a sort of quasi-audition process (some of the guest hosts weren’t likely to take the job full time).
However, multiple reports claimed that Richards used a minor scheduling conflict with one of the guest hosts to wiggle his way behind the lectern, appearing after champ Ken Jennings helmed the show for the two weeks after Trebek’s final episodes aired.
Later, however, Richards was announced as the permanent replacement for Trebek on the show’s syndicated version, with actress Mayim Bialik picked to host primetime specials.
The show tried to spin things that they were naming “two hosts” — but most people didn’t buy it, pointing out that Bialik would only appear on select primetime series aired on ABC — and only one had even been announced at that point. In reality, Richards was replacing Trebek since he’d appear five days a week throughout the entire season to perhaps a few weeks for Bialik.
Richards came under heavy fire for not only appearing to “hire himself” (despite continued claims it wasn’t his final decision) but also when offensive comments he’d made on a podcast surfaced. He was already under scrutiny after The Ringer revealed those comments as well as the fact he was in charge of “The Price is Right” when it allegedly fired a model after becoming pregnant, triggering a lawsuit.
Richards denied any wrongdoing with the alleged “Price” scandal and apologized for his comments, but ultimately he was forced out of the host role on “Jeopardy!,” though it was officially billed as a resignation.
At the time, he had just wrapped taping one day of episodes — or five shows — and those would turn out to be his last.
Now, he’s also departing the show entirely.
When he stepped down as host, many wondered why Sony would continue to allow him to executive produce the show amid all of the alleged past offensive comments he’d made. After all, one of an EP’s main jobs is to manage people, so Richards’ alleged past could have been an HR ticking time bomb.
Sony has apparently agreed.
“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,” wrote Sony’s Suzanne Prete in an internal memo to staffers.
Michael Davies from Embassy Row will take over as executive producer on an interim basis.
Prete will take a more active role in managing the show until a permanent replacement can be named.
As previously announced, “Jeopardy!” is moving forward with another series of guest hosts after Richards’ episodes air (the show can’t scrap them because it would interfere with its returning champion model and it was right in the middle of Matt Amodio’s high profile run when last season wrapped).
Bialik has been tapped to tape three weeks’ worth of episodes, which gets the show through Oct. 8, 2021.
“Jeopardy!” typically tapes five shows a day, two days a week so it quickly banks a significant number of episodes.