How Jeopardy Is Handling The Mike Richards Catastrophe Behind The Scenes After Mayim Bialik Promotion

mike richards in jeopardy interview

As Jeopardy! fans wait for a time when we can go back to enjoying it for its game show merits, the TV institution remains temporarily bogged down by its search for a permanent host. Earlier this month, executive producer and previous guest host Mike Richards was given half the keys to the podium, as it were, only to give them right back a week later after the growing backlash caused all involved to reverse course. Now, with Mayim Bialik sitting high as the sole confirmed host for future episodes, Mike Richards is still serving as an executive producer on Jeopardy!, but with some slight changes.

While many Jeopardy! fans might have expected Sony execs to push Mike Richards all the way out the door after those resurfaced podcast comments and his questionable behavior otherwise, the decision was made to keep him in the same EP position he's had for years. To that end, according to the New York Times, Sony Pictures Entertainment's top TV exec Ravi Ahuja took a call with the Jeopardy! crew after Richards stepped down and was apparently open about how much the studio still supports Richards in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

As well, Ravi Ahuja reportedly also had more kind words to say about Richards for vacating the hosting job without incident, and Richards apparently spoke up during the call to make an additional apology for his past behavior. However, it's reported that Ravi Ahuja also talked about his personal sensitivity regarding some of the offensive comments Mike Richards made during his podcast days, speaking as an Indian American who grew up in Mississippi in the 1970s.

While it isn't entirely clear if Mike Richards has ever made similarly offensive comments on the actual Jeopardy! set, he has agreed to go through sensitivity training in the aftermath of his temporary hosting snafu. Which seems like a strange move to make, considering most of his egregiously offensive comments were made 7+ years ago. That's not to say it's a pointless endeavor, since everyone could always stand to be more empathetic to others, but it wouldn't be shocking if some fans saw this as more of a PR move than anything else.

In a similar vein, Sony has brought in a longtime business and legal affairs executive named Suzanne Prete to serve as an overseer above Mike Richards who is meant to serve as a guiding force for the show going forward, both on the business side and regarding the creative direction. To be sure, though, Sony says that Prete's arrival was already planned to happen prior to the flip-flopping hosting announcements.

At this point, Jeopardy! is set to welcome Mayim Bialik back to the podium to guest-host another three weeks' worth of episodes, with a new round of celebrity guest hosts presumably getting locked into place as this is being written, at which point Bialik would theoretically stick to her role as host for primetime specials. Producers are allegedly trying anything possible to keep her around on a permanent basis, which isn't so easy given her role as star and EP of Fox's Call Me Kat. Hopefully everything will be figured out by the time 2022 gets here.

Jeopardy! airs weekdays in syndication, so be sure to check your local listings to see when and where it's playing in your area. And stick close to our 2021 Fall TV premiere schedule to see when all the new and returning shows are popping up soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.