LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Mike Richards is out as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” days after he exited as the quiz show’s newly appointed host because of past misogynistic and other comments.
Richards is also no longer executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune,” according to a memo to staff that was confirmed by Sony, 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.
The podcast content would have dogged anyone taking over a high-profile Hollywood position but was especially difficult for Richards, said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor.
They were “the opposite of what we thought of in Alex Trebek. ‘Jeopardy!’ and Trebek were kind of this place you escaped from the scandal and the tweets and all the other stuff that was going on in the world,” Thompson said Friday.
Richards was chosen as the successor to Trebek, a decision that was seen as divisive from the beginning after the show had embarked on a search that included actors, sports figures, journalists and celebrities.
While the report of Richards’ podcasts immediately preceded his exit, there had also been renewed attention to his 2009-18 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 which named Richards. He reportedly was dropped from it before a settlement was reached.
Doubts also grew about the fairness of the selection process, with reports finding holes in Richards’ repeated assertion that the decision was Sony’s and he had no role in it. Volleys of memes were launched comparing Richards to Dick Cheney, whose search for George W. Bush’s 2000 vice presidential running mate ended with Cheney in the spot.
Sony’s decision to crown the “Jeopardy!” executive producer as Trebek’s successor — after a pageant-style parade of celebrity contenders — had stirred ill will and suspicion toward what had been a remarkably trusted institution. Trebek, who hosted the show for 37 seasons, died last November.
But viewers will get to see the short-lived emcee in action. The episodes that Richards taped Thursday will 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.