Mike Richards has finally been fired as ‘Jeopardy’ executive producer

Michael Richards at the 43rd Daytime Emm....

The most appalling thing about this continuing Mike Richards mess is how utterly avoidable it was at every single turn. Mike Richards was the executive producer of Jeopardy, and he oversaw the auditions to replace the late Alex Trebek. Richards chose himself and Sony backed him with zero examination into his professional background. Wouldn’t you know, Richards was a misogynistic and racist douche who behaved terribly on his previous gig. If only someone had known, right? If only. So Sony encouraged Richards to step down as Jeopardy host but they kept him on as executive producer. Once again, Richards would have a say in who was host, but don’t worry, Sony hired a “minder” to check up on Richards to make sure he wasn’t still a sexist pig. Only that blew up in everyone’s faces too, who would have known?? So now Mike Richards is finally out.

Sony said on Tuesday that Mike Richards would immediately exit his job as the executive producer of “Jeopardy!,” completing a stunning downfall for a game-show impresario who just three weeks ago had secured one of the most coveted jobs in television as the replacement for the longtime host Alex Trebek.

“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,” a Sony executive, Suzanne Prete, wrote in a memo to staff on Tuesday. “That clearly has not happened.”

Mr. Richards is also set to leave his role as executive producer of “Wheel of Fortune.” He will be temporarily replaced at both programs by Michael Davies, a veteran game-show producer who developed the original American version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

Top executives at Sony had initially signaled support for Mr. Richards to stay on as executive producer even after he stepped down as host. But they eventually came to believe his continued presence would be untenable, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity to describe sensitive internal discussions. Crew members confronted Mr. Richards on Aug. 19 in an emotional meeting, where they expressed dismay at his past behavior and said it had imperiled the show’s reputation. An all-hands call last week that included Mr. Richards left some staff members demoralized. Some “Jeopardy!” fans also said they were confused as to why Mr. Richards was being allowed to stay on behind the scenes.

A final decision was made over the weekend, the person said.

[From The NY Times]

The Times says that Richards’ entertainment lawyer is already negotiating his exit package from Sony and I would be surprised if Richards walked away with less than $10 million. The Times also notes that Sony is worried that this makes them look incompetent. Good. They should be worried. Sony corporate f–ked this up from the start. They should have never greenlighted Richards choosing himself as host, and even then, if they really wanted him, they should have done a full background check on him. Then once it was clear that Richards was and is a terrible person, Sony should have fired him outright instead of allowing him to limp along in the EP seat. Sony executives were just hoping to ride out the controversy and protect their terrible bro. It really does not work like that anymore.

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34 Responses to “Mike Richards has finally been fired as ‘Jeopardy’ executive producer”

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  1. North of Boston says:


    Note to Sony executives: if you’re thinking of hiring a minder for an executive producer aka senior manager of a flagship property and leader of a hundred employees, to make sure that person does their job and doesn’t act like a bigoted a-hole, maybe next time just save yourself some time and money, skip that step and go straight to firing him?

    • SJ says:

      This is the part I just can’t get over!! They hired a minder for him. A minder! As if he were a child, and not the E X E C U T I V E P R O D U C E R. Aaaaaahhhhhh.

      • molly says:

        The “sensitivity training” is what killed me. It’s 2021. A 4hr eLearning course you can play in the background of your real work does not a “sensitive” person make.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ SJ, yes! Richards needed a babysitter and Sony thought that keeping him on with one would make his awfulness disappear? WTF were they thinking?

        Sony, and all other large broadcasting companies, instead of hiring white, privileged pricks who have skated through life only by their connections and color, possibly expand your diversity further by stepping away from all w h i t e g u y s, and hire women and/or BIPOC, for once.

  2. Merricat says:

    Sony definitely bungled it. I knew he wouldn’t last as EP once they fired him from hosting, but it was a mistake to wait to see if the outrage would subside. Their next choice has to be on point, or they’ll damage the property for good.

    • Most people would be SHOCKED if they saw how much this shit happens behind the scenes and no one finds out about it. I’ve been in or around the business for over 30 years now and I STILL get shocked at how stupidly the studios and powers that be can be about checking on people before they go ahead with commercials, movies, etc. I’ve seen whole commercial campaigns derailed because no one bothered to check up on the person they were basing it on. And by that time they had spent all the money to film it and it’s in post-production getting finished and they have to just…..throw it all away. The money wasted is insane. And all they have to do is background check, lol. Gosh I wish I could tell stories.

      • Robyn says:

        Glad you mentioned this! I worked in advertising for years and things have to be signed off on by all kinds of people at every level from concept to production and STILL things like the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial go to air. It’s almost like there needs to be a diversity of folks in decision making positions that can safely raise valid objections…nah, that can’t be it.

      • That is exactly right. It’s absolutely crazy to see some horrific concept or some horrific person, lol get featured and it can go ALLL the way to post production before SOMEONE says, “hey, ummm…..” And it’s egregious and such a waste of time and money.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ laurelcanyoner, please tell us your secrets…..please, pretty please with sugar on top…..😉

      • @bothsidesnow

        Awww, you are so sweet. I guess I DO have a lot of stories, but I know people I know read this site, lol. And I have signed NDA’s and so have the people I tell stories about so I have to be careful! It was great when Ronan Farrow’s reporting showed how VERY ubiquitous the NDA is to people even working peripherally in the business. It scares all of us, A LOT.

  3. TigerMcQueen says:

    Well, that whole thing was just an incredible display of mediocre white man privilege. It would have been fascinating, if it weren’t so infuriating that was happening in f***ing 2021. That’s all I have to say.

  4. Izzy says:

    This took far longer than it should have. They literally hired a babysitter to make sure he didn’t do anything (else) legally actionable. What a clownshow.

    • detritus says:

      That’s the boggling thing for me. Major corporations like to pretend that people like him are paid so well because they are just. so. good.

      If he was so good why did they need to hire a minder so he was able to adhere to the absolute basics of employer responsibilities? Why is mistreatment of women seen as such a minor thing?

  5. Amy Bee says:

    What I want to know is did Sony know about the complaints about Richards from the Price is Right before they hired him as executive producer for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune?

    • North of Boston says:

      If they didn’t, they should have. That would be a basic thing when vetting a candidate.

      Hmm, is there anything that went on when he held this same position at his previous job? Maybe something in the easily Googleable public record? Or maybe that former colleagues who we’re contacting for references might know about?

      Oh, never mind, we’re going to hire him anyway, why bother!?

    • lucy2 says:

      It’s amazing how many companies don’t do a simple vetting, when hiring for a big time job like that.
      And it’s not just the entertainment industry, I know someone in education who has had harassment and financial complaints and lawsuits at every single school he’s worked for, and just bounces from school to school whenever he gets fired. No one ever checks with the previous school and he keeps getting hired over and over, at a high salary, and then in 2-3 years that school has to deal with it too. Meantime money is misspent, female staff is harassed, everything gets messed up.

  6. Jess says:

    I love that this mediocre white man had the audacity to hire himself as host and then got himself fired as EP instead lol

  7. Who ARE These People? says:

    And the funny thing is, if he hadn’t had the hubris to think he could also host the show, he could have kept his job as producer. Rubbed salt into his own wound.

    • Dlc says:

      Right? He overreached and it backfired on him big time. EP of jeopardy sounds like a cushy job, but that wasn’t enough for him. Based on nothing but mediocrity he thought he should be the next host of jeopardy!

    • lucy2 says:

      I know! He so badly wanted to be the star, and look where it got him.

  8. janey janey says:

    For our daily comment on white supremacy in the U.S.

    It is amazing how much work it takes to hold a white person accountable in the workplace.

  9. Betsy says:

    I mean they could just have gone with the woman that Alex Trebek wanted in the first place rather than the whole rigamarole of “auditions.”

  10. girl_ninja says:

    Honestly every time I see a photo of that guy I just want to smack his smug face. I think LeVar deserves better and I hope if they offer him the job he passes.

    • North of Boston says:

      His face really is annoying!
      At first I thought it was just the smarmy look in the photo of him holding the Emmy. But no, it’s there throughout his hosting and in just about every photo of him I’ve seen.

      It’s like if Stephen Colbert’s stand-in were transplanted to an alternate universe where he was an entitled douchebro who had no soul.

    • phaedra7 says:

      Also, IMPO, Mayim Bialik (“Blossom”, “Big Bang Theory”) would have made a very good candidate/choice, as well.

  11. Nuks says:

    No fan of this guy or his & Sony’s debacle, but EPs don’t hire people including themselves independently of the studio and network. Every time you see a showrunner get replaced on a show, that’s an EP getting fired. EPs get banned from the set, they’re often a negotiated credit for someone who merely had controlling interest in the underlying material, but once the show is bought, the studio and network almost always own it. EPs are not all powerful, although this guy certainly had some legacy juice. But wow what a sh— show. I guess they thought their demographic would be oblivious?? I don’t know… do you guys watch jeopardy?

  12. Case says:

    This is hilarious. Had he not appointed himself host, he’d still have his EP job. Lolol.

  13. LillyfromLillooet says:

    HIRE LEVAR FOR HOST and let’s move on.

  14. Moo says:

    I read “Jeopardy James”disliked him because the way he and the other contestants were treated backstage, by Richards,when they were competing.

  15. Green Desert says:

    lol boy bye

  16. Janice Hill says:

    Time’s up.

  17. Leslie G says:

    I have included at the end of my post two excellent articles that highlight the archiac stupidity and ineptitude of the Sony executives. There should be ramifications.
    This show is a legendary and prestigious cash cow, and they dismantled the staffing infrastructure to increase earnings and allow a deeply, almost criminally, flawed white man to get promoted into a world wide spotlight. Are they aware of how the internet works? Do they understand what a thorough vetting is supposed to do, to prevent?
    In my opinion, we are going to start seeing shareholder lawsuits for this sort of disastrous Sony C-Suite and Board of Director negligence – their incomprehensible lack of oversight and accountability. What is their role if not to prevent such a globally reported debacle?
    I’d be curious about the profile of such leadership…do they include women and POC? Are they all white men over the age of 50? Stockholders should claim negligence for perpetuating and allowing such colossal blindspots and decisions, resulting in market value decline or PR debacles.
    *Another example would be the beauty industry that left billions on the table by not recognizing the immense revenue opportunities they were missing – and not even able to recognize – with their limited skin tone makeup options. Rhianna is a billionaire in a few short years from their blindness.
    Stockholders should start realizing that these situations are preventable and directly translate to missed market cap and potential revenue loss. They should demand diverse, well rounded, C-Suites and Board of Directors.