CBS NEWS – Caitlin O’Kane
Mike Richards will no longer serve as the executive producer of both “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” after past insensitive comments he made on his podcast resurfaced earlier this month. Sony Pictures had already decided to remove Richards as host of “Jeopardy!” — a role he coveted and won just weeks earlier.
Suzanne Prete, executive vice president of business and strategy for “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”, sent a memo to the shows’ staffs announcing Richards’ departure on Tuesday.
“I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately,” Prete wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CBS News. “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, founder of Embassy Row production company, which is owned by Sony Pictures, will “help with production on an interim basis until further notice,” Prete said. She thanked staff for their “cooperation and professionalism” and said she will “more involved in the day-to-day on our shows moving forward.”
Richards was named full-time host of “Jeopardy!” on August 11, with Mayim Bialik slated to host special episodes of the show. But on August 18, The Ringer published a report exposing past remarks Richards made on his podcast, “The Randumb Show,” from 2013 to 2014.
The Ringer found Richards made inappropriate comments to his cohost and assistant about nude photos, used derogatory words for little people and those with an intellectual disability, and called women fat. He also has made insensitive remarks about Jewish people.
In a statement to CBS News after The Ringer report was published, Richards said “there is no excuse” for his past comments and that he was “deeply sorry.”
When Richards was first rumored as a possible new host earlier this year, several media outlets also resurfaced past discrimination lawsuits filed against him when he was the executive producer of “The Price is Right.” On August 9, Richards sent a letter to staff about the lawsuits, saying the allegations were “made in employment disputes against the show” and that the complaints do “not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on ‘The Price is Right.'”
Just two days after The Ringer article was published, Richards stepped down as host of “Jeopardy!” In his memo to the staff on August 20, Richards said he was “deeply honored” to host the show, but “over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
Mayim Bialik was named to fill in as host for the start of the new season.
At the time, Sony Pictures Television said Richards would stay as executive producer of both “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” before reversing course less than two weeks later. Richards had served as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” since 2020.
After longtime host Alex Trebek died in November 2020, a series of guest hosts took the podium, including LeVar Burton, Aaron Rodgers and Katie Couric, as well as Richards himself.