Also out as Wheel showrunner due to controversial comments in past weeks after he stepped down as Jeopardy host
The other shoe dropped Tuesday as Mike Richards, who stepped down as host of Jeopardy due to comments made on a years- old podcast, was removed from his position as executive producer of Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune by Sony Pictures Television, who produces the show for CBS Media Ventures.
In the interim, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire executive producer Michael Davies will take over duties of both shows. Ironically, Mike Richards was the showrunner of the recent Jimmy Kimmel-hosted revival version for ABC.
The news came from this memo Sony EVP business and strategy Suzanne Prete sent to staff:
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.
Richards was appointed executive producer of both game shows by Sony after the retirement of Harry Friedman in 2019. After longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek died last year, Richards ran what some would say was a crooked “fill-in guest host contest” before appointing himself as host several weeks ago, outraging fans. After old podcasts resurfaced featuring Richards making embarrassing remarks – not to mention being involved in a lawsuit during his time as showrunner of The Price Is Right over his treatment of pregnant women, Richards stepped down as host. For now, Mayim Bialik is stepping in to host the show starting Sept. 20 for three weeks as the Richards episodes he hosted for the season’s first week will air as planned.
The fallout has affected Jeopardy’s ratings as they have fallen throughout this ordeal, as the show earned a 4.2 household rating for the week ending August 22, down 23 percent according to Buzzerblog. However, keep in mind these are summer reruns and HUT levels are typically lower this time of year. Still, the drop is concerning – especially for ABC-owned WLS-TV, who uses Jeopardy as an early news lead-in and have employment controversies and ratings issues of their own.