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Mike Richards out as executive producer of 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune'

The producer has drawn intense scrutiny for his past comments about women, Jewish people and poor people.
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Mike Richards will no longer serve as executive producer of the "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" game show franchises, a Sony executive said in a statement Tuesday.

Richards was tapped to succeed Alex Trebek as host of "Jeopardy!" but stepped down earlier this month amid intense scrutiny on his past comments about women, Jewish people and poor people.

"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," Sony Pictures Television executive Suzanne Prete said.

Richards was one of several guest hosts who helmed the show after Trebek died in November. Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show, has returned to searching for a permanent host of the popular syndicated quiz show.

In the meantime, "The Big Bang Theory" actor Mayim Bialik will tape three weeks of episodes and then a rotating roster of to-be-announced guest hosts will helm the show.

Prete said Michael Davies of the production company Embassy Row has "agreed to help with production on an interim basis until further notice."

"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," Prete said in the statement, which was originally shared with the staff of the game shows.

Richards came under fierce criticism since he was formally hired to emcee the legendary quiz show, with some longtime fans saying they believed the producers should have selected a more diverse candidate for the job, such as actor and presenter LeVar Burton.

The backlash to Richards' ascent escalated after The Ringer’s Claire McNear reported that he made disparaging comments about women, Jews, poor people and Haiti seven years ago, while he was co-executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and hosting a podcast called “The Randumb Show.”

McNear, the author of “Answers in the Form of Questions,” a book about the “Jeopardy!” franchise, said 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 pulled offline.

Richards, for his part, apologized and said in a statement: “It’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable.”

The firestorm was highly unusual for a program that was virtually synonymous with Trebek’s sober-minded bearing and above-the-fray style — and largely exempt from the cultural feuds and cycles of controversy that have lately engulfed the internet.

The new season of the show started production in mid-August. It was scheduled to debut Sept. 13.