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Jeopardy! Just Made A Drastic Decision About Mike Richards Future

The search to replace Alex Trebek, the late long-term host of "Jeopardy!," has proven to be a crazy and wild ride. After a string of guest hosts — including former champion Ken Jennings, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and broadcast journalist Savannah Guthrie — the "Jeopardy!" team worked on their decision while fans formed their own opinions about who should take over the role. Notably, a mass of fans enthusiastically spoke out in favor of actor and TV host Levar Burton — and Burton passionately campaigned for himself.

Instead, Burton and the other contenders were overlooked in favor of not one but two other hosts — "Jeopardy!" executive producer Mike Richards and former "The Big Bang Theory" star Mayim Bialik (via Forbes). While Bialik has her own string of controversies (via HITC), it was mostly the choice of Richards that led to a major outcry amongst fans and critics. Following the news of his hosting gig, The Ringer published an extensive dive into Richards' problematic past, including frequently making offensive remarks, especially toward women and women's bodies, on his podcast.

In a shocking turn of events, Richards' stint hosting "Jeopardy!" was over before it began, as he announced in late August that he would be stepping down as host, stating that him hosting "would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move" (via Buzzfeed News). However, at the time, it was stated that Richards would remain an executive producer for the show, meaning that he would still have active involvement, even if he wasn't in front of the camera.

Now, there's been another development in this unexpectedly complicated "Jeopardy!" saga — and it's one that seriously affects Richards' future.

Richards has lost his executive producer gig

Deadline has reported that not only will Richards no longer be serving as executive producer for "Jeopardy!," but he is also stepping down from his position on another game show for which he had been serving as EP, "Wheel of Fortune." 

The decision follows a meeting with the show's staff, as well as Sony's top TV executive, Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Sony Global Television Studios, who led the search to replace Alex Trebek. In this meeting, it was confirmed that Richards would continue as EP. However, multiple staff members expressed that they expected Richards to also step down as executive producer.

Following the meeting, Suzanne Prete, EVP, Business and Strategy, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, sent an internal note to the staff, informing them that Richards would be departing as EP. Prete wrote, "I'm writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of 'Wheel' and 'Jeopardy!' effective immediately. 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."

What happens now? Mayim Bialik, the new host of the "Jeopardy!" primetime and spin-off series, will fill in for Richards as host of the syndicated program until a permanent replacement is found for the spot (via Deadline). Either way, whatever happens in the future of "Jeopardy!," it certainly seems that Mike Richards will not be involved.