Mike Richards will no longer be executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and the “Wheel of Fortune” game show franchises, a Sony executive said in a statement Tuesday.
Richards was chosen to succeed Alex Trebek as host of “Jeopardy!” but resigned earlier this month amid scrutiny of his past comments about women, Jews and the poor.
“We had hoped so when Mike stepped down as host at ‘Jeopardy!’ that would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties that we have all experienced in recent weeks. It clearly did not happen, “said Suzanne Prete, director of Sony Pictures Television.
Richards was one of the many guest hosts who ran the show after Trebek’s death in November. Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show, is once again seeking a permanent host for the popular syndicated quiz show.
In the meantime, “The Big Bang Theory” actor Mayim Bialik will record three weeks of episodes, and then a rotating roster of invited guests to announce will helm the show.
Prete said Michael Davies of production company Embassy Row had “agreed to assist with production on an interim basis until further notice.”
“Michael and I will be working with all of you in the coming weeks to make sure production stays on schedule and we don’t miss a beat as we head into the new season,” Prete said in the release, which was originally shared with the game show staff.
Richards has come under heavy criticism since he was officially hired to host the legendary quiz, with some longtime fans saying they felt the producers should have selected a more diverse candidate for the job, like the actor and presenter LeVar Burton.
The backlash from Richards’ rise intensified after Claire McNear of The Ringer reported that he made derogatory comments about women, Jews, the poor and Haiti seven years ago, when ‘He was the co-executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and hosted a podcast called “The Random Show.”
McNear, the author of “Answers in the Form of Questions,” a book on the “Jeopardy!” Franchise says she reviewed all 41 episodes of the podcast, which was billed as a behind-the-scenes look at “The Price Is Right.”
NBC News has not listened to the original recordings, which appear to have been taken offline.
Richards, for his part, apologized and said in a statement: “It is more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable.”
Firestorm was highly unusual for a program that was virtually synonymous with Trebek’s understated demeanor and above-the-fray style – and largely free from the cultural wrangles and cycles of controversy that have recently engulfed the internet.
The show’s new season began production in mid-August. It was scheduled to debut on September 13.