Following his firing from his executive producer role on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, Mike Richards has reportedly lawyered up and is prepping for a legal battle with Sony Pictures Television. As previously reported per former The Hollywood Reporter editor Matthew Beloni’s newsletter, Richards has enlisted the help of notorious attorney Bryan Freedman to assist him in securing a major payout for the firing.
While it’s still early into litigation, Freedman is allegedly coming after Sony for its “mishandling the situation so badly his client went from three jobs to zero.” He could face trouble finding a job in the future given the exposure of the controversy. Beloni reports there are three ways the situation could be handled: Sony could give him a major payday somewhere in the lane of eight figures. Richards’ hosting deal was supposed to be worth $3 million, but with that in addition to his EP salary for the two shows and possible bonuses, the number could be much higher. The second option would be to keep him around as a consultant, tasked with creating new shows –– which would work for the company since it would be cheaper and it might mean that it would keep Richards from further criticizing the company publicly. The third option leaves Richards walking away with nothing. The company would place the blame solely on Richards and completely sever its ties with him.
Richards was fired from his EP post after staff called on Sony bosses Tony Vinciquerra and Sony TV’s Ravi Ahuja to let him go in light of the host’s disturbing comments on his past on his podcast resurfacing. Those same comments caused a stir that eventually led to his stepping down from Jeopardy’s highly coveted permanent hosting spot. At the time of his firing, Sony stood behind Richards in his decision to resign but announced that it had no plans to release him from his EP duties. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward,” Sony Pictures Television said in a statement. “Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.” The firing supposedly happened after Vinciquerra and Ahuja came to the conclusion that the chatter surrounding the controversy wouldn’t go away until he was out of the picture. According to Beloni, the Sony heads went to Richards and asked him to resign.