Mike Richards has had a rough month at Jeopardy!. First, he landed the permanent hosting position. That caused backlash from fans. More specifically, fans believed that Richards picked himself for the job. At the very least, they believed that he slanted the choice in his favor. One of the show’s biggest winners even stepped forward to criticize the selection process.
However, they didn’t have to worry about Mike Richards’ hosting tenure. The day before he was set to start filming episodes as the show’s host, an article detailing his past transgressions hit the internet. That tell-all brought some of Mike Richards’ comments on his podcast to light. Many found those comments to be offensive, demeaning, sexist, and bigoted. Before that, old lawsuits that named Richards surfaced. It was a firestorm of negative press that Richards and Sony couldn’t weather. So, he stepped down after one day of production.
However, Mike Richards is still connected to Jeopardy!. He still holds his executive producer position on the show. Many fans thought that he and Sony would negotiate his exit from both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Instead, Sony execs stood behind Richards’ continued involvement in both shows. They even went so far as to tell staffers not to speak to the press about the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the show, according to a New York Times report.
However, Sony Pictures Television isn’t leaving Mike Richards to his own devices. Instead, they’ve tapped a legal and business affairs exec to oversee Richards while he acts as executive producer.
Sony Appoints a Minder for Mike Richards
Suzanne Prete is a legal and business affairs executive for Sony Pictures Television. In fact, she is the senior vice president of global licensing and brand management, according to her LinkedIn profile. Now, she will also oversee Mike Richards as he goes about his duties as the executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
According to the NYT report, Prete won’t just be a glorified babysitter for Mike Richards. Instead, she will also be tasked with taking, “More of an active presence on the creative direction and strategy,” of the shows. So, it looks like the seasoned executive will be there to make sure that Richards doesn’t put his foot in his mouth again. At the same time, she may well be on board to mitigate the damage that the EP has caused with his recent scandal. Prete will report directly to Ravi Ahuja, who has been the chairman of Global Television Studios at Sony Pictures Entertainment since March of this year.
Mike Richards will also take sensitivity training, according to the report. Between this training and Prete’s guidance, Sony hopes to see Richards carry out his duties with “professionalism and respect.”
However, these new developments may not be enough to satisfy many Jeopardy! fans who think Richards should be booted from the show completely.