Mike Richards Out as 'Jeopardy!' Executive Producer After Losing Hosting Gig amid Controversy

Mike Richards, who stepped down as the new host of Jeopardy! after a series of scandals, is now out as the show's executive producer

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

Suzanne Prete, the executive vice president of business and strategy for the two shows, announced the news in a letter sent to staff on Tuesday, noting that Richards' exit is "effective immediately." The announcement comes after Richards, 46, stepped down as the new host of Jeopardy! amid a series of scandals.

"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," Prete wrote in the letter, obtained by PEOPLE. "That clearly has not happened."

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Prete said Michael Davies, the president and CEO of production company Embassy Row, will 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," she continued. "I know this has been a challenging time for the entire team, and I want to thank you all for your cooperation and professionalism over these last few weeks."

Mike Richards
Mike Richards. Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

Sony announced on Aug. 11 that Richards had been selected as the new permanent host of the daily syndicated game show, about nine months after the death of beloved longtime host Alex Trebek. Just over a week later, however, he told staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE that he was stepping down after disparaging comments he previously made about women and other marginalized groups resurfaced.

The comments were made on a podcast the TV producer hosted from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show, which at the time was touted as a behind-the-scenes look at his then-workplace The Price Is Right, according to an article published by The Ringer on Aug. 18.

Richards apologized in a statement obtained by PEOPLE prior to the news of his exit, saying in part, "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."

He added: "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."

Mike Richards
Mike Richards. Frederick M. Brown/Getty

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Richards also previously faced allegations of workplace discrimination during his time at The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal. Accusations of pregnancy discrimination arose in two complaints filed by former models on the shows. Richards was not personally named in the lawsuits, which were filed against CBS and producer Fremantle Media.

"These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show," Richards previously wrote in the staff letter. "I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price Is Right."

In the wake of Richards' exit, Big Bang Theory alum and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik — who was announced as the host of Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series earlier this month — will fill in temporarily. Additional guest hosts will be announced as production continues.

Episodes that were taped during Richards' nine-day tenure as host will still air, Sony has said.

Jeopardy!'s 38th season premieres on Sep. 13.

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