August 13, 2022

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Truly Business

Mike Richards Is Out as ‘Jeopardy!’ Government Producer

5 min read

Sony claimed on Tuesday that Mike Richards would quickly exit his job as the government producer of “Jeopardy!,” finishing a spectacular downfall for a sport-exhibit impresario who just three months ago experienced secured one of the most coveted employment in tv as the replacement for the longtime host Alex Trebek.

“We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host place at ‘Jeopardy!’ it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all professional these very last couple of months,” a Sony executive, Suzanne Prete, wrote in a memo to personnel on Tuesday. “That clearly has not occurred.”

Mr. Richards is also set to leave his job as executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune.” He will be briefly changed at both plans by Michael Davies, a veteran video game-show producer who developed the primary American variation of “Who Wishes to Be a Millionaire?”

Sony had named Mr. Richards as the long term host of “Jeopardy!” on Aug. 11, contacting him a “unique talent.” But Mr. Richards quit the web hosting occupation on Aug. 20, times soon after a report by The Ringer exposed offensive and sexist opinions he experienced created on a podcast a number of years in the past, the hottest in a series of scandals that tarred his brief tenure.

Prime executives at Sony experienced in the beginning signaled assistance for Mr. Richards to continue to be on as government producer even immediately after he stepped down as host. But they at some point arrived to consider his continued existence would be untenable, according to a particular person with information of the make any difference, who requested anonymity to explain sensitive inside conversations.

Crew customers confronted Mr. Richards on Aug. 19 in an emotional conference, where by they expressed dismay at his past conduct and said it experienced imperiled the show’s status. An all-arms simply call last 7 days that included Mr. Richards still left some staff users demoralized. Some “Jeopardy!” admirers also claimed they were being confused as to why Mr. Richards was currently being authorized to remain on at the rear of the scenes.

A final selection was produced above the weekend, the individual mentioned.

Mr. Richards is in call with the highly effective Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedland about negotiating his exit from Sony, in accordance to a individual common with the conversations. Mr. Freedland also represented the previous NBC Information anchor Megyn Kelly and Chris Harrison, the former host of “The Bachelor,” just after their individual abrupt ousters.

Mr. Richards taped a single week’s worthy of of “Jeopardy!” episodes in a one working day of filming in advance of Sony introduced that he had ceded the web hosting position. (All those episodes are still established to air the week of Sept. 13.) The previous sitcom star Mayim Bialik is predicted to remain as the host of “Jeopardy!” prime-time specials, but Sony has stated it would resume the look for for a alternative for Mr. Trebek’s weeknight slot. Ms. Bialik will be the initially guest host of the standard application in location of Mr. Richards.

The levels of competition to exchange Mr. Trebek, who died in 2020 just after serving as the show’s host for 37 decades, captivated “Jeopardy!” fans and showcased a parade of probable successors such as the former contestant Ken Jennings and the actor LeVar Burton.

But it was Mr. Richards who won out, inspite of acquiring practically no identify recognition amongst viewers and the simple fact that, as the show’s government producer, he had overseen features of the alternative approach. Outdated lawsuits also resurfaced from Mr. Richards’s previous task operating “The Price Is Right” that bundled accusations of sexist behavior.

“Jeopardy!” initial aired in 1964 and turned a beloved Tv set institution that nonetheless draws millions of weekly viewers. The furor bordering Mr. Richards pierced the show’s earlier mentioned-the-fray track record, lengthy cultivated by the understated Mr. Trebek, and subjected it to intensive debates about diversity, privilege and habits in the fashionable place of work.

Sony’s leadership was also facing scrutiny for the mess. “Jeopardy!” experienced been a responsible jewel in the studio’s tv portfolio, quietly earning tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual profits. But its messy succession drama roiled fans and lifted thoughts about why Sony experienced not found Mr. Richards’s past offensive conduct right before naming him as the new host.

The report in The Ringer disclosed offensive opinions Mr. Richards designed on a podcast, which include a 2013 episode the place Mr. Richards called his feminine co-host a “booth slut” mainly because she at the time labored as a product at a shopper clearly show in Las Vegas. He explained girls who use just one-piece swimsuits as searching “really frumpy and overweight” and referred to stereotypes about Jews and big noses, prompting outrage from the Anti-Defamation League.

Mr. Richards, in a memo to the “Jeopardy!” staff members on Aug. 20 asserting he would step down as host, wrote that “it pains me that these earlier incidents and remarks have cast these types of a shadow on ‘Jeopardy!’ as we glimpse to start out a new chapter.”

He closed the memo by composing, “I know I have a whole lot of function to do to get back your have faith in and self confidence.”

A person notable former contestant, James Holzhauer, who to start with appeared on “Jeopardy!” in 2019, seemed to rejoice on social media just after the information of Mr. Richard’s exit, suggesting that he may well not have even viewed the display if Mr. Richards experienced remained concerned.

Andy Saunders, who runs the web site The Jeopardy! Enthusiast, said on Tuesday that he was relieved and hopeful that peace may be restored at the activity clearly show.

“Its name has taken a bit of a hit about the past handful of months,” he mentioned in an interview. “I’m actually on the lookout forward to being capable to shift on from this. And I’m hopeful that the demonstrate has acquired from what is occurred.”

This is a acquiring story. Look at back for updates.

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