Jeopardy And Wheel Of Fortune Cut Ties With EP Mike Richards After Hosting Controversy

Jeopardy! has been facing a hosting conundrum ever since Alex Trebek passed away in late 2020, and while its guest-host plan worked well enough throughout the first half of 2021, everything took a nosedive once producers attempted to boost executive producer Mike Richards into the top spot. (Albeit one he would have shared with Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik.) Now, after having previously stepped down from the hosting role, Richards has now completely exited his role as executive producer for both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

According to Variety, the Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune staff received a message from the game shows' executive vice president of business and strategy, Suzanne Prete, which started off with:

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.

At this point, Embassy Row exec Michael Davies is confirmed to shift over to help with the two legacy game shows for a temporary basis until things get smoothed out behind the scenes. Suzanne Prete made it clear that their goal is to not let Mike Richards' exit affect the production schedule as they move forward to the next season.

It's not necessarily a major shock to hear that Mike Richards is no longer working for Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, considering the deluge of criticisms Sony and the respective shows' execs received after he was granted the permanent host spot in spite of a growing list of resurfaced comments and "jokes" Richards had made in the past, on a long-defunct podcast and as a Price Is Right EP. But what is arguably shocking is Richards' all-encompassing exit coming so soon after Sony publicly remained dedicated to keeping him on the executive producer team, which led to its own slightly smaller deluge of criticisms.

Suzanne Prete's recent addition to the executive team was set in place before all the recent Mike Richards foibles and follies, but her placement gained public traction recently when it was made clear that her role would be overseeing Richards' EP duties. Many no doubt wondered how long that scenario would play out, and now we know it did not take long at all for it to dissolve.

While it seemingly wasn't addressed in the staff memo, Jeopardy! fans can likely assume that the producers still aim to start the new season off by airing the week's worth of episodes that Mike Richards filmed during his solo day as full-time host. The goal now is to have Mayim Bialik return to her guest-host role for afternoon episodes, along with her permanent placement as the host of primetime installments and other specials. The producers are also currently on the hunt for a new batch of recognizable temp hosts until a decision can be made about who deserves a spot behind the Jeopardy! podium.

While waiting to hear where Jeopardy! goes next, as well as where Mike Richards ends up next, don't forget to tune into ABC for Season 2 of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which debuts on Sunday, September 26, at 8:00 p.m. ET, and up to date with all the other upcoming 2021 Fall TV shows!

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.