Mike Richards hired an attorney in what appears to be an upcoming legal battle against Sony following his ousting as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” Fox News can confirm.
Los Angeles-based attorney Bryan J. Freedman of Freedman + Taitelman, LLP confirmed to Fox News on Friday he’s now representing Richards.
Richards has dominated headlines in the past few weeks due to his short-lived hiring to fill the shoes of the late Alex Trebek as host of the long-running game show. However, his hiring soon became controversial after past derogatory comments he made about women, Asians and Jews from a 2013-14 podcast resurfaced, causing a public uproar.
The backlash caused Richards to step down from his new role as host and instead remain as executive producer of the game show as well as “Wheel of Fortune.” However, Sony execs confirmed this week that he no longer holds either role.
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In a note to Sony staffers on Tuesday, Suzanne Prete, EVP, business and strategy, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” said: “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.
“Michael Davies from 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.
“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. As Ravi mentioned last week, I will be more involved in the day-to-day on our shows moving forward and I am looking forward to working closely with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.”
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Richards had signed an overall development deal with Sony in 2019, and became executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” in May 2020.
In a statement issued to Fox News last month, Richards apologized for his past attempts at being “provocative” and vowed to do better in the future.
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“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” Richards said in that statement. “Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”
Richards went on to explain the context of his comments within his podcast before acknowledging his “obligations as a role model” to do better.
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This isn’t the only controversy for Richards. He previously came under fire for an incident that occurred more than a decade ago while Richards was at “The Price Is Right.” He was the subject of a 2010 complaint by Brandi Cochran, a former model on the show, who claimed she was fired after becoming pregnant with twins while he served as co-executive producer. Cochran obtained more than $8.5 million in punitive damages.
Reps for Sony did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Jessica Napoli and the Associated Press contributed to this report.