Earlier this month, Richards stepped down when past controversies — including his “offensive language” and disparaging remarks about women’s bodies on a podcast — resurfaced in a report from The Ringer.
“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,” Richards said in a statement on Aug. 20, the Deseret News reported.
At the time, Sony Pictures Television planned to keep Richards on in his role as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
“Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the ‘Jeopardy!’ team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced,” Sony previously said in a statement sent to the Deseret News. “It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”
Now, just several days later, the company has parted ways with Richards.
“I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of ‘Wheel’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ effective immediately,” “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” staff learned in an internal memo sent to the Deseret News on Tuesday.
INBOX: Mike Richards will no longer be the EP of "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." "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.— Lottie Johnson (@Lotlotej) August 31, 2021
“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,” the memo continued. “That clearly has not happened.”
In the meantime, Michael Davies, the executive producer of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” will help on an interim basis, according to the memo, which came from Sony’s Suzanne Prete.
“Michael and I will work together with all of you in the weeks ahead to ensure that production remains on schedule and we do not miss a beat as we head into the new season.”
When does the new ‘Jeopardy!’ season start?
Despite all of the chaos that has surrounded “Jeopardy!” in recent weeks, the show’s 38th season will premiere on Sept. 13, the Deseret News reported.
Production on the new season began earlier this month, with Richards taping a few episodes. A source with Sony told the Deseret News on Tuesday that the five episodes Richards taped as host will air as originally scheduled.
The episodes will see the return of contestant Matt Amodio, who with 18 wins under his belt has become the third-highest winning contestant during the show’s regular season, behind “Jeopardy!” greats Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, the Deseret News reported.
Following Richards’ episodes, neuroscientist and “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik — who was originally hired to host primetime and spin-off specials of “Jeopardy!” — returns to the hosting lectern for 15 episodes.
As “Jeopardy!” continues to move forward, the show will announce additional guest hosts.
In the meantime, “Jeopardy!” is re-airing the “Tournament of Champions” that originally aired in May to fill time before the new season begins, the Deseret News reported.
Who will host ‘Jeopardy!’?
Amid all of the current chaos, this much is certain: “Jeopardy!” has a number of guest host contenders who would gladly take on the hosting position full time.
Bialik is reportedly being considered for the role of permanent host, CNN reported. Other fan favorites, like Cohen, Jennings, LeVar Burton and Aaron Rodgers, have also expressed interest in hosting full time, according to the Deseret News.
In an interview with USA Today earlier this year, Cohen, who hosted this year’s “Tournament of Champions,” said he’d take the permanent job as host “in a heartbeat.”
“Alex (Trebek) and I had a funny exchange about my interest in potentially hosting someday when he retired, so the folks over at ‘Jeopardy!’ knew that it’s a dream of mine,” he said. “I’d love to be the host of this show that I’ve loved since I was like, 9 years old and is such a part of who I am.”
Jennings, who continues with “Jeopardy!” in his role as consulting producer, recently told The Ringer he’s “disappointed with how this process played out.”
“But I’d rather look ahead,” he said. “I plan to be with the show as long as they’ll have me, no matter who’s hosting.”