Mike Richards Is Officially Out as 'Jeopardy!' Executive Producer
Update, August 31st: Suzanne Prete, EVP, Business and Strategy of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! sent a memo to staff of the game shows on August 31st to announce that Mike Richards will no longer be executive producing the shows. He had previously been removed as host of Jeopardy! following Alex Trebek's death.
The note read, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "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."
Prete went on to detail that Michael Davies from Embassy Row will step in to help with production for the time being so that "production remains on schedule."
This announcement comes on the heels of the huge fallout the show experienced after it hosted a number of guest hosts in an effort to find Trebek's replacement. Not only was Richards chosen over celebrities who seemed primed for the job, but as soon as he was given the hosting role, a number of stories came out about past scandals he was allegedly involved in. In light of the drama, he was taken off the hosting gig, leaving Mayim Bialik (who was originally supposed to host spinoff shows only) at the helm of the game show for now.
There's no word on who will step in to executive produce or host beloved show.
Original story, August 24th: As the Jeopardy! hosting controversy saga continues, Mayim Bialik has been named the interim host of the syndicated show. She had previously been slated to host primetime specials and spinoffs, but Bialik will now take on main hosting duties for the first 15 episodes of Season 38.
Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, had originally been scheduled to take on the role of main host after the death of the beloved Alex Trebek. But those plans quickly fell apart after disparaging comments he made about women and other marginalized groups resurfaced this month. As reported by Variety, he will keep his job as executive producer. Richards reportedly made untoward comments on the podcast The Randumb Show back in 2013 and 2014, and the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into the goings on.
Per Variety, Sony Pictures TV released a statement about Richards' departure, saying, "We support Mike's decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike's 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward."
Because the network has seemingly ensured that nothing about this transition can be smooth, there have already been concerns raised about Bialik.
The actress and neuroscientist has a history of speaking out about vaccine skepticism—a particularly sensitive subject at this time. She also penned a 2017 New York Times op-ed about Harvey Weinstein survivors that raised eyebrows due to tone-deaf statements that appeared to blame the victims. Specifically, Bialik wrote that the reason she had never been sexually harassed or assaulted during her acting career was because she's "nontraditional looking" and "dress[es] modestly."
Viewers spoke out about the initial choice of Bialik and continued to do so after it was announced that she's now getting a larger role, albeit temporarily.
So, what's next for Jeopardy!? As of right now, it will return to its guest hosting format until a permanent host is named. Even if Bialik can overcome her own controversies, it's unlikely her schedule will allow her to become the show's permanent host (she also has her own sitcom to film).
Many fans are hoping that LeVar Burton, who guest hosted earlier this year, will get the job.
Although social media strongly indicates that Burton is the fan favorite, there has reportedly been talk that Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy! star contestant who also guest hosted this year, is in the mix. His episodes as guest host garnered some of the highest ratings, although Burton was up against the Olympics.