It comes after a turbulent few weeks for the long-running syndicated program, which saw Richards, who joined Jeopardy! as exec producer in 2020, ousted as host after one day of production.
Suzanne Prete, EVP, Business and Strategy, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, just sent an internal note to staff on these shows explaining that Richards would depart effective immediately with Embassy Row’s Michael Davies agreeing to help on an interim basis.
She said that they hoped that Richards exiting as host would have “minimized the disruption and internal difficulties” that they experienced over the last few weeks, but added that “clearly has not happened.”
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Deadline understands that given all that has transpired over the last few weeks, it was clear that Richards’ position as EP has been too compromised for him to effectively continue in that role. It’s thought that given he doesn’t have the internal or external support that he needs to lead the team, his exit was in the best interests of the show.
Richards stepped down as host earlier this month following a Ringer report about insensitive and sexist comments Richards had made towards his female co-hosts and guests on The Randumb Show, a podcast he hosted in 2013 and 2014, along with off-color remarks about Haitians and Jews.
Last week, the staff and crew of the venerable game show were summoned for a Microsoft Teams meeting this morning, sources told Deadline. Richards apologized to his staff for the comments and addressed his team during the meeting, which was attended by Sony’s top TV executive, Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Sony Global Television Studios, who oversees the studio’s gameshow franchises and was in charge of the search for a permanent Jeopardy! host following the death of Alex Trebek. A similar virtual meeting was held with the staff of Sony’s Wheel of Fortune, which Richards also executive produces.
During this meeting, the studio confirmed that he would continue as executive producer. Yet, multiple Jeopardy! staffers who attended the meeting said that they had expected for him to step down as EP as the show is restarting the search for a permanent host.
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.
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. As Ravi mentioned last week, I will be more involved in the day-to-day on our shows moving forward and I am looking forward to working closely with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.
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