Harry Friedman, executive producer of both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, will retire when his contract expires on May 1, 2020, Sony Pictures Television, which produces both of the veteran games, said Thursday.
“I think all of you know how much I love these shows, and that I deeply respect how hard you’ve worked to make them so successful,” Friedman told the staff of both shows on Thursday morning. “We’ve celebrated a lot of milestones together, and now with my own personal 25th anniversary milestone just a few months away, it felt like this was the right time for me to step away. Please join me in making this the best season yet.”
Friedman has executive produced both shows since 1999, when he co-executive produced with Merv Griffin. Griffin left both shows solely in Friedman's hands in 2000. He joined Wheel of Fortune as a producer in 1995, followed by Jeopardy! in 1997. Wheel of Fortune is headed into season 37, while Jeopardy! starts season 36 this fall.
“We are proud to have had one of the industry’s most prolific executive producers at the helm of our flagship game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, for the past 25 years,” said Mike Hopkins, chairman, Sony Pictures Television, in a statement. “Under Harry’s direction, these iconic shows have become among the longest running and most successful game shows in television history. We look forward to working with Harry over the next nine months to create more outstanding television, and to ensure a smooth transition once a replacement has been identified. Harry is truly one of a kind, and he will be greatly missed.”
Friedman has won 14 Emmys and is the only producer to ever have won two Emmys in the same category in a tie with himself. He’s also a Peabody Award winner, an inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and the holder of three Guinness World Records. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and he has been inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of the class of 2020.
Last spring, Jeopardy! saw its ratings hit eight-year highs with the spectacular run of professional gambler James Holzhauer who will return in November for Jeopardy!’s Tournament of Champions. Wheel of Fortune hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek are signed on to their respective shows through 2022.
Last spring, Trebek was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer but after treatment, his doctor declared him to be “near remission.”
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are produced by Sony Pictures Television and distributed by CBS Television Distribution.