Suzanne Prete, executive vice president of business and strategy at Sony Pictures Television, confirmed Richards’ departure as EP in a memo to Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune staff on Tuesday.
“I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately,” Prete wrote. “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.”
Initially tapped to succeed the late, great Alex Trebek as host of the long-running game show, Richards bowed out from that role when anti-Semitic, misogynistic and racist jokes that he told on a podcast in the mid-2010s resurfaced online. (You can read details here.) “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,” he said (in part) in a statement at the time. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
Later, a Sony Pictures Television spokesperson confirmed for TVLine that, despite the revelation of Richards’ past remarks, he would remain EP at Jeopardy! In a separate statement, the rep said that the powers that be “have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.” Since Richards “led the Jeopardy! team” through Trebek’s two-year battle with pancreatic cancer and subsequent death in November 2020, “it is our hope that as EP, he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
In the wake of Richards’ exit as host, The Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik — who was previously tapped to host any of Jeopardy!‘s primetime or spinoff editions in the future — has been set as his temporary replacement. She’ll serve as emcee for three weeks beginning Monday, Sept. 20, while the five episodes that Richards taped as Trebek’s full-time replacement (before he ultimately stepped down) will air as planned the week of Sept. 13, which serves as Season 38’s kickoff.
Jeopardy! GOAT contestant Ken Jennings, who served as the quiz show’s first guest host after Trebek’s passing, is currently leading our poll of who should permanently replace Richards behind the podium, followed by Reading Rainbow vet LeVar Burton and Bialik.
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