Mike Richards Is out as Producer of ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

LOS ANGELES—Mike Richards is out as an executive producer of “Jeopardy!”, days after he exited as the quiz show’s newly appointed host because of past comments.

Richards is also no longer an executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune,” according to a memo to staff that was confirmed by Sony Pictures Television, which produces both of the 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,” Suzanne Prete, an executive with the game shows, said in the memo.

In her memo, Prete said she will work with Richards’ interim replacement, Michael Davies, until further notice.

Richards had signed an overall development deal with Sony in 2019, and was announced as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” in May 2020.

He quickly became controversial when he went from behind-the-scenes to Sony’s pick for a host of “Jeopardy!”—even before his 2013 to 2014 podcast comments demeaning women and making stereotypical remarks about Asians, Jews, and others surfaced.

Questions were raised about whether Richards had put his finger on the scale in favor of himself, and whether he had the gravitas that was seen in other candidates, such as fan-favorite LeVar Burton.

Producer Mike Richards
Producer Mike Richards attends the CBS Daytime Emmy After Party at Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif., on April 29, 2018. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The episodes that Richards taped during his short tenure as host are scheduled to air when the show returns for its 38th season starting Sept. 13; a do-over with a substitute host would be a slap at the contestants and further undermine the show.

Richards largely had game and reality shows on his resume, but “Jeopardy!” is widely regarded as something more: A contest that adheres to civility and is won on the basis of knowledge, and which had long been stewarded by the dignified Trebek. He died in November 2020 at age 80, shortly after taping his final shows.

Richards’ comments on his “The Randumb Show” podcast were reported by The Ringer website, and the ensuing furor prompted him to announce that staying on as host would be “too much of a distraction for our fans” and wrong for the show.

On the podcast, Richards used derogatory, crude language about women and their bodies and disparaged the homeless, among others.

There also was renewed attention to Richards and his 2009 to 2018 tenure as a producer on “The Price is Right.” Several lawsuits had been filed by former models against the show alleging discriminatory behavior, including one named Richards. He reportedly was dropped from it before a settlement was reached.

When Richards exited as host, Sony said the podcasts and their contents came as a surprise, vowing to hold him to a standard of “professionalism and respect” as producer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

The Associated Press
The Associated Press