The tumult continues at “Jeopardy!” with Mike Richards stepping down as executive producer of the iconic game show.
The move comes less than two weeks after Richards exited as host of “Jeopardy!,” amid a furor over his past offensive comments on a now-defunct podcast called the “The Randumb Show” and alleged mistreatment of models on “The Price Is Right.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment had selected Richards as the successor to the beloved host, Alex Trebek, who died last November.
But the handover was messy because Richards initially coordinated the search for a replacement for Trebek, but then Richards threw his hat in the ring last spring.
Sony executives said that Richards was removed from the selection process at that time — but a perception lingered that he had a hand in his selection as host of the game show.
After Richards stepped down from the on-camera role, Sony said that Richards would continue as the executive producer. But that situation proved to be untenable. He also will no longer run the companion show, “Wheel of Fortune.”
“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, executive vice president for business and strategy at “Wheel of Fortune and “Jeopardy,” said in an email to staff members Tuesday morning.
Longtime game show producer Michael Davies from Embassy Row will take over the production of the two shows “on an interim basis until further notice,” Prete said.
Sony executives said that while Richards had been vetted, they were unaware of the podcast that Richards hosted in 2013 and 2014 in which he used offensive language and made crass remarks in an attempt at comedy. According to a report in the Ringer, Richards made comments disparaging Jews, little people and women in a podcast, “The Randumb Show.”
Mayim Bialik has been hosting the show as the Culver City studio mounts a search for a permanent host.
“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,” Prete said in the memo, which noted she would take a more hands-on role in the production. “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.”
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