Embattled Exec Producer Mike Richards Out at 'Jeopardy,' 'Wheel of Fortune' After Scandals Mount
© AP Photo / Willy SanjuanMike Richards poses in the press room at the 45th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on April 29, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. Eight months after the death of beloved "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.
© AP Photo / Willy Sanjuan
Sony confirmed earlier this month that Mike Richards, executive producer of "Jeopardy!," would no longer host the trivia game show. Richards said in a statement that he was deciding to step down from the hosting gig after past cases of misconduct and clips from his own podcast became "too much of a distraction for our fans."
Executives at Sony Pictures Television announced on Tuesday that Richards, 46, will no longer serve as executive producer of "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune," and will be replaced in the interim by Michael Davies, the former executive producer of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
"Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately," Sony executive Suzanne Prete said in an email to the production staff on both game shows.
"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."
The Emmy-award-winning executive producer had been leading both shows since May 2020.
After stepping down from his "Jeopardy!" hosting gig, Richards addressed his team during a virtual meeting attended by Sony chairman Ravi Ahuja.
The 46-year-old reportedly apologized to his colleagues for comments publicized from "The Randumb Show," his podcast that ran from 2013 to 2014.
Several clips from his since-deleted, 41-episode podcast were parsed by The Ringer and characterized as having a "tendency to turn bawdy and sometimes vulgar."
© REUTERS / Carol KaelsonAn undated handout photo of new "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show
An undated handout photo of new "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards, who is also the executive producer of the long-running daily TV quiz show
In one case, Richards was discussing a cloud hacking that exposed a number of celebrities' private photos and, at one point, began grilling his female assistant and cohost on whether they have ever taken "booby pictures."
He later requested to go through one of their phones and, once rejected, asked whether the picture was "of [her] boobies."
Richards was also slammed for podcast remarks deemed anti-Semitic.
"Ixn-ay on the ose-nay," he said while discussing noses on his show. "She’s not an ew-Jay."
The Anti-Defamation League also called for Richards to be investigated over the remarks.
Additionally, past discrimination lawsuits against Richards were made public for the first time. Richards, then-executive producer of "The Price is Right," was named in a 2010 lawsuit that accused him of gender-based discrimination and wrongful termination after game show model Brandi Cochran announced she was pregnant with twins.
Though Cochran was initially awarded $8 million in damages, the decision was overturned in a 2014 appeal, and a settlement was reached.
James Holzhauer, who won 32 consecutive games in 2019 and took home more than $2.4 million from the game show, supported Richard's removal from both programs.
Do I think Mike Richards’s podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) August 31, 2021
It remains unclear who will fill the coveted hosting gig once occupied by Alex Trebek.
As the show moves forward with casting a new host, the role will temporarily be assumed by Mayim Bialik, a neuroscientist and actress known for "The Big Bang Theory" and her starring role in the 90's sitcom "Blossom." Bialik will also host all "Jeopardy!" primetime specials and spin-offs.