For Wheel of Fortune icons Pat Sajak & Vanna White, one man was responsible for creating the show’s iconic, feel-good atmosphere, and for it – they are forever in his debt.
Current fans of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have come to know Executive Producer Mike Richards better through his guest-hosting stint on the latter. Richards, however, inherited an entire television empire when he came on as EP in 2020.
For over two decades prior, that role belonged to Harry Friedman – one of the most beloved men in the television industry.
Friedman was executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune from 1999 to 2020. And as this Emmy TV Legends archival interview shows, Vanna White & Pat Sajak had nothing but glowing praise for their EP during his tenure.
“Harry is incredible! He really is. He’s so easy – No, I’m not kissing his butt!” Vanna smiles as Pat interjects with rabid kissing of the air.
“That’s not what I’m doing,” she offers as she laughs off Sajak’s teasing. “He’s a great guy! He doesn’t complain about much. Well, if he doesn’t like something I’m wearing he’ll let me know… But otherwise, he’s so involved with the show,” she continues within.
“He works with everybody – not just Pat and me. There’s a hundred people on the staff & crew, and he tries to accommodate everyone. He tries to make it work!” Vanna praises, with Pat not far behind.
Harry Friedman: Architect of Modern ‘Wheel of Fortune’s Feel-Good Vibes
“He really has learned – it’s not just if you’re producing a television show, it’s whether you’re working in any business – he really has learned that one of the secrets is: you treat the people you work with with respect!” Pat Sajak adds of Friedman in full agreeance. “You listen to them, you pay attention to their needs, and they respond and they love it!”
Hopefully Friedman, who is alive and well today at the young age of 74, has hopefully seen this interview for himself. Continuing on in kind, Sajak credits the entire wonderful “atmosphere” of Wheel of Fortune to the EP within.
“I’ve been on a lot of shows where the atmosphere… It’s just not great,” the host continues. “[Shows where] the staff can’t wait for the show to end so they can get out… And the crew lays back because the producer is going to start screaming at people… Doesn’t happen here!”
“He cares! He cares about every person,” Vanna lauds.
For far more from Pat Sajak & Vanna White on their beloved former EP, check out the full interview below courtesy of Emmy TV Legends’ archives:
Pat Sajak and Vanna White discuss Wheel of Fortune producer Harry Friedman.Emmy TV Legends