Harry Friedman, the longtime executive producer of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, is stepping down when his current contract expires next May, capping a 25-year career that has seen him produce more than 6,270 hours of programming, most of those on two of TV’s most venerable game shows.
Friedman shared the news with the staffs of both Sony Pictures TV productions this morning at a gathering on the Jeopardy! sound stage, where the Alex Trebek-hosted quiz show is currently taping its 36th season. Wheel of Fortune is now in production on Season 37. Both syndicated staples premiere September 9.
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Jeopardy! especially has had a resurgence in the spotlight, with Trebek’s public fight with cancer and phenom champion James Holzhauer (and his 32-game winning streak) fueling big ratings gains.
“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,” he told his team. “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 won 14 Emmy Awards (including once winning twice in one category after tying with himself) and a Peabody, along with being part of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.
“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,” Sony Pictures TV chairman Mike Hopkins. “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.”
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are produced by Sony Pictures TV and distributed by CBS Television Distribution.