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Mike Richards out as executive producer of Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune

Richards was named as Alex Trebek's replacement host on the quiz show, then everything fell apart.

Jeopardy has struggled to replace legendary host Alex Trebek, and Mike Richards, shown here, was not the answer.
Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

Mike Richards, who was named new Jeopardy host and then stepped down from the role after controversial past incidents and comments surfaced, is no longer an executive producer of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, Sony announced on Tuesday. The change is 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," Sony executive Suzanne Prete said in a memo to staff sent Tuesday. "That clearly has not happened." Sony shared the memo openly with the press.

The staff was told production would remain on schedule. Richards taped one week of shows, which will air the week of Sept. 13, and actress Mayim Bialik will host the next three weeks of shows

Bialik was originally hired to host Jeopardy specials and spin-off shows, while Richards was supposed to take over the syndicated daily show. Bialik's three weeks begin on Sept. 20.

Richards was a controversial choice from the start, in part because fans were cheering for more familiar names, such as actor LeVar Burton, former contestant Ken Jennings and NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But his role as an executive producer of the quiz show also made it appear as if he had given the job to himself. Richards might have been able to survive those two issues if troubling comments and incidents from his past hadn't surfaced.

When Richards was in advanced negotiations for the job, reports came out about his time working on The Price Is Right. Some models who worked for the show accused producers of discrimination and harassment.

And The Ringer reported on offensive comments and jokes Richards made when he hosted The Randumb Show podcast several years ago. Richards later stepped down from the hosting position and apologized for drawing negative attention to the show.

The show's legendary longtime host, Alex Trebek died in November 2020 at age 80 from pancreatic cancer. 

It may seem like a lot of fuss over a simple quiz show, but Jeopardy holds a special place among such programs. Jeopardy has won 39 Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, and many countries have created regional versions of the show. More than 8,000 episodes have aired.

The search for a permanent host of the syndicated show is now back on.