Frontrunner for ‘Jeopardy!’ Hosting Gig Addresses Controversy Over Discrimination Lawsuit

Mike Richards (Courtesy: Jeopardy!)

Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards has broken his silence about past harassment and discrimination lawsuits after reports emerged saying he is the frontrunner to replace late host Alex Trebek.

The Wrap obtained an email Richards sent to the show’s staff on Monday, in which he discussed lawsuits he faced in 2010 and 2011 while working for The Price is Right

“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right 10 years ago,” Richards wrote. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right.”

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Two models brought lawsuits against producers of the show. The first suit was for discrimination and the second was for sexual harassment. Richards was dismissed as a defendant in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

The plaintiffs included former Price Is Right model Brandi Cochran, who claimed in a 2010 complaint she was fired after becoming pregnant with twins while Richards served was co-executive producer of the game show. Cochran was awarded more than $8.5 million in damages, Deadline reported.

Cochran alleged Richards made insensitive comments about pregnant women. However, Richards insisted in his statement he would never “disrespect” a pregnant colleague.

I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys,” he wrote.

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Last week news spread that Richards is in advanced talks with Sony Pictures Television to host Jeopardy!

A spokesman for Sony Pictures told TheWrap discussions are currently ongoing, including with other contenders for the job.

Richards joined Jeopardy! as its executive producer last year and has hosted  other game shows including Divided and The Pyramid.

Although fans petitioned for LeVar Burton to get the coveted hosting job, it looks like the Star Trek actor may no longer be a contender.

This current season of the trivia show has had several guest hosts at the podium including Burton, Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Aaron Rodgers.