Mike Richards Will Stay On As “Jeopardy!” Executive Producer And Has To Undergo Sensitivity Training
One week after Mike Richards “stepped down” as the new host for Jeopardy!, Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed that the disgraced former podcaster will stay on as the show’s executive producer. So too problematic to host the show, but not too problematic to be the boss in charge of everything. Got it! Apparently, Sony’s top TV executive, Ravi Ahuja, called Jeopardy! staff on Monday and made it clear that the studio still supports Mike. The New York Times calls Sony’s decision “a show of defiance that has baffled Hollywood.” Yep. Truly baffling that a schmoozy middle-aged white dude is given yet another chance. That’s literally never happened before in the history of show biz.
Several anonymous Jeopardy! sources told The New York Times:
Mr. Ahuja praised Mr. Richards for his willingness to step down from the hosting job, saying it was the right move for “Jeopardy!,” and signaled that he expected the crew to move forward from last week’s uproar with Mr. Richards in charge, the people said.
He lamented the media coverage of Mr. Richards and instructed the staff not to speak to reporters. Mr. Ahuja also invoked his own upbringing as an Indian American who grew up in the 1970s in Mississippi, where, he said, he faced racially offensive remarks, to emphasize that he was sensitive to concerns about Mr. Richards’s crude comments, the people said.
In case you forgot, Mike was accused of sexism and discrimination in several Price Is Right lawsuits in the early 2010s. Then in 2013 and 2014, he hosted his own podcast and made several bigoted and sexist comments. All of that was enough to get pushed out from in front of the camera, but he’s staying behind the camera.
Mike has agreed to undergo sensitivity training, and on the call, he apologized for his behavior again and asked his staff for another chance to prove “who he really is” (according to his spokesman Ed Tagliaferri). Spokesman Ed also “swatted away” the rumors that Mike might be negotiating an exit with Sony, saying:
Mike is committed to continuing as the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
Oh shit! Wheel of Fortune is still stuck with him too!
Apparently, Sony has appointed business and legal affairs executive, Suzanne Prete, to oversee Mike at Jeopardy! Suzanne will take more of an active role in the business side of things and “creative direction and strategy.” She’ll report to Mike-loving Ravi Ahuja (who wouldn’t speak to The Times). The New York Times says that some viewers and aspiring contestants aren’t happy with the decision to keep Mike on as executive producer. And a bunch of Twitterers agree:
I really admire Jeopardy Executive Producer Mike Richards for removing Mike Richards as Jeopardy host immediately after hearing the horrible things Mike Richards said on Mike Richards podcast
— Matt Oswalt (@MattOswaltVA) August 20, 2021
This is legitimately insane
— Noah B (@KingdoK) August 26, 2021
The five episodes Mike filmed before he stepped down will still air. And anti-anti-vaxxer Mayim Bialik, who was hired to host primetime specials and spin-offs, will temporarily take over day-to-day hosting duties. Meanwhile, the search continues for a permanent Alex Trebek replacement.
At this point, I will literally take anyone who isn’t Mike Richards. But I have zero faith in Sony. Mark my words, one month from now we’ll turn on our TVs and this mysterious “Mikhail Ricardo” fellow will be the one hosting Jeopardy!: