Mike Richards has been fired from executive producing of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune following his resignation from hosting Jeopardy! earlier this month. According to a report by Variety, Sony Pictures Television announced Richards’ departure to staff on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at midday. The termination comes after a hectic few weeks for Richards, including allegations of workplace misconduct.
Richards joined Sony as the EP of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in 2020, and was one of the first guest hosts of Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek passed away that autumn. He was initially named the new permanent host of the show this summer, but widespread fan outcry and reports of insensitivity towards co-workers led him to step down. At the time, Richards said that he feared his scandals would “distract” from the game show itself, and now Sony executives apparently feel the same way about his work behind the camera. Sources close to the production said that Richards’ standing had been “too compromised for him to effectively continue in that role.”
Variety obtained a memo sent to the staff of Jeopardy! and the staff of Wheel of Fortune by the shows’ executive vice president of business and strategy Suzanne Prete. It said: “I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately. 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 from Embassy Row has agreed to help with production on an interim basis until further notice. Michael and I will work together with all of you in the weeks ahead to ensure that production remains on schedule and we do not miss a beat as we head into the new season,” the memo continued. “I know this has been a challenging time for the entire team, and I want to thank you all for your cooperation and professionalism over these last few weeks.”
Fans were initially furious that Richards had been chosen as the new Jeopardy! host over beloved celebrity guest hosts who seemed willing to take the job. Some even speculated that he had “hired himself,” since he held sway as EP. Over the weeks that followed, old quotes and workplace grievances against him emerged, as well as allegations of insensitivity and even bigotry.
According to a report by The Ringer, Richards made sexist comments towards his female co-hosts on The Randumb Show podcast from 2013 to 2014. He also made racist remarks about Jewish people and Haitian people. Richards’ old quotes even earned the scrutiny of the Anti-Defamation League.
Right now, the plan is reportedly for actress Mayim Bialik to host the regular syndicated version of Jeopardy! However, she is not expected to hold the job permanently. Sony has yet to make a public statement on this news.