While Sony Pictures Television isn’t saying anything publicly, it was reported this week that “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards is the apparent front-runner to become the long running quiz show’s new permanent host.
But Richards’ path to replacing the beloved Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020, may have hit a snag after his involvement in two harassment lawsuits related to his old job were resurfaced.
Richards joined Sony Pictures Television in 2019 and has executive produced “Jeopardy!” since 2020. But before that, he was for a decade an executive producer on CBS’s “The Price is Right.” In 2010, former “The Price Is Right” model Brandi Cochran sued show producers FremantleMedia and The Price Is Right Productions for harassment. She asserted that she was harassed following the 2008 on-air announcement of her pregnancy, and found out she was fired as her maternity leave came to an end.
Her lawsuit claimed that show producers “discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against Cochran, including making remarks about her pregnancy, her appearance, her weight, and her eating habits.” Richards was named in the lawsuit. Cochran won $7,769,440 in punitive damages in 2012.
But that wasn’t the only one. In 2011, another “The Price Is Right” model, Lanisha Cole, also sued the show for sexual harassment, alleging in part that Richards and another producer spoke abusively to her on set. Richards was however dismissed as a defendant in that lawsuit in April 2013 and the suit was settled a month later.
Variety reported Wednesday that Richards and Sony Pictures Television are in advanced talks for him to take the hosting job, which likely makes sense to the production company. Richards has hosted reality shows before, including “Beauty and the Geek,” and has produced game shows for decades. He was also the second highest rated guest host — after show all-star and consulting producer Ken Jennings’ two-week stint — even if that’s likely due to the fact Richards was also the first “Jeopardy!” host after the death of Trebek.
But even before the lawsuits were resurfaced, the news that Richards might be the show’s new permanent host provoked mostly negative reactions from fans on social media. Many complained that it should be well-received guest host Levar Burton, others joked about the implications of the main person involved in choosing Trebek’s successor ultimately choosing himself. Mainly, the consensus at least among those very vocal fans was that Richards isn’t the man for the job.
But then on Thursday, the lawsuits were making news again.
As of this writing, it’s unknown whether or not any of this will affect Richards’ chances. Representatives for Sony Pictures Television didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.