The producers of Wheel of Fortune have expressed “regret” for featuring a background image that many viewers interpreted as depicting enslaved black women during a recently aired episode.
“We regret the use of this background image, and we will be replacing it moving forward on any rebroadcast,” executive producer Harry Friedman said in a statement to EW.
During the June 15 episode of Wheel, which was filmed as part of the game show’s “Southern Charm” week, a background image depicted two black women on a plantation wearing clothing reminiscent of the antebellum South. The image ignited criticism on social media, where photographer Joshua Itiola posted a clip of the episode and wrote, “Someone please tell me why @WheelofFortune has slaves in their ‘Southern Charm Week’ images.
A person with knowledge of the situation told EW the image was taken from footage shot on location in 2005 for a New Orleans episode of Wheel. It was filmed at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, and the women in the image were working as tour guides.
Oak Alley did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, but a representative told the New York Daily News that the venue does not feature actors who portray slaves. The plantation does employ tour guides of all skin colors who wear period clothing, the rep said.