Mike Richards Resigns As 'Jeopardy,' 'Wheel Of Fortune' Executive Producer
By Jason Hall
August 31, 2021
Mike Richards has resigned as executive producer of the Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune game shows, weeks after stepping down as the permanent host of Jeopardy! amid backlash over his controversial past.
"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," Sony Pictures Television executive Suzanne Prete said in a statement obtained by NBC News on Tuesday (August 31).
On August 20, Richards announced his decision to step down as the full-time host of Jeopardy!
Former Big Bang Theory and Blossom star Mayim Bialik, who was initially announced to serve as host during a series of ABC primetime Jeopardy! specials, as well as a potential spinoff series for the longtime syndicated game show, will be taking over as the temporary host.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” Richards announced in a statement obtained by Decider.
“As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” Richards continued. “However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today.
Decider reported a handful of controversial comments made by Richards while hosting The Randumb Show podcast had surfaced, which includes remarks made about women, Jewish people and the disabled community.
Sony Pictures Television said it would resume its search for a permanent replacement for the late Alex Trebek as full-time host of the long-running syndicated game show amid Richards' resignation.
Last week, Richards apologized for derogatory comments made about women on a podcast he hosted during his time working as an executive producer of The Price is Right.
“There is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry" and called it "humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” Richards said via Variety.com.
Richards' apology came in response to a detailed report by The Ringer, which addresses comments he made while hosting The Randumb Show, including referring to his co-host as a "booth ho."
The Ringer found old episodes of The Randumb Show, which Richards hosted from 2013 and 2014 and recorded in his office while working as an executive producer on The Price is Right.
Details of past incidents involving Richards during his time as executive producer of The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal have resurfaced since he was reported to be favored and confirmed as the full-time replacement for Trebek as the host of Jeopardy!
Richards was also accused of pregnancy discrimination in two complaints filed by former Price is Right models, as well as making insensitive statements and taking other questionable actions around models who got pregnant while working for the show, Variety reports.
The Ringer reviewed all 41 episodes of The Randumb Show before they were deleted online and reports Richards, at one point, asked his female assistant and female co-host if they've ever taken nude photos, which he referred to as "booby pictures."
In one episode, Richards refers to his female co-host as a "booth ho," according to the report.
Per The Ringer's report:
"Women’s bodies and clothing are recurring subjects for Richards. On a 2013 episode, he says that women ‘dress like a hooker’ on Halloween; on another, he tells a story about a former Price employee who had taken up baking: ‘We said that we were going to have to saw her out of her room because she was going to be so giant that she wouldn’t be able to fit out the door.'”
Richards responded to the report in a statement directed to the Ringer, which was also supplied to Variety, claiming the podcast “was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.”
Richards' full statement is included below:
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”
Last week, Variety reported Richards, who has served as executive producer since last year and was among more than 15 guest hosts during the past eight months, was picked by Sony Pictures Television as the game show's full-time host.
Richards is a game show veteran, having previously hosted numerous programs including Beauty and the Geek, Divided and The Pyramid, as well as serving as an executive producer on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Let's Make a Deal and others before joining Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! in 2020.
The initial report of Richards being the favorite to replace Trebek received criticism due to numerous other guest hosts auditioning for the role, but it instead ultimately being offered to the executive producer, even prior to reports of incidents that occurred during his time working on the Price is Right.