Longtime Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is expected to become the show's permanent host, but viewers have raised concerns regarding Richards' troubled past.
With eight weeks left in a tough year, 2020 got even worse. In November, longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek passed away after a tough bout with pancreatic cancer. His legacy and presence left a gaping hole in the iconic game show, but producers were asked to find a replacement for Trebek. Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, journalist Robin Roberts, actor LeVar Burton, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and several others tried out for the role, but it appears that producers have found their man.
In an exclusive story, Variety reported that Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is in "advanced negotiations" to become the show's next host. Prior to joining the Jeopardy! team, Richards hosted High School Reunion and Beauty and the Geek. He has also executive produced shows like Let’s Make a Deal and The Price Is Right.
As the news of Richards' promotion circulated throughout social media, a few Jeopardy! viewers were quick to point out that Richards has had a troubled past in-game show television. In 2010, former Price Is Right model Brandi Sherwood-Cochran accused Richards and his former colleague, Kathy Greco, of harassment and fostering an unhealthy work environment.
After working for the show for six years, Sherwood-Cochran became pregnant, but opted to hide her pregnancy from the show's producers because she claims that two other models had previously been fired for getting pregnant while working on the show. Ultimately, she endured a miscarriage that she says was caused by "severe stress."
"[That's] nature's way of getting rid of a bad baby," Greco allegedly told Sherwood-Cochran after her miscarriage.
Not long thereafter, Sherwood-Cochran became pregnant again. During her second pregnancy, the former Price Is Right model claims that Richards, Greco and other producers warned other models not to follow in her footsteps or they'd be fired. After recovering from her pregnancy, Sherwood-Cochran alleges that Greco and Richards refused to schedule her for work and essentially cut her out of the show. Sherwood-Cochran went on to sue the show and its producers in 2010. Through her legal efforts, she was awarded upwards of $8 million, but a judge eventually stripped her of the verdict because the jury was allegedly given poor instructions before deliberation. In 2016, Sherwood-Cochran reportedly settled with the show for an undisclosed amount.
Unfortunately, Sherwood-Cochran is not the only Price Is Right model to launch a legal campaign against Richards and his former colleagues. In 2011, Lanisha Cole filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Mike Richards and his former colleague, Adam Sandler, not to be confused with the comedian. Two years before she filed the lawsuit, Cole claims that Richards began to hinder her career in favor of a model with who he was having a relationship with. Court documents also indicate that Richards hindered Cole's modeling career by creating policies "which never before existed." Adding on, Cole detailed an incident in which Sandler stormed into her dressing room while she was half-dressed and berated her in front of her colleagues. Much like Sherwood-Cochran, Cole reached an undisclosed settlement with the show in 2013, but Richards was removed as a defendant in the process.
Jeopardy! has not issued a public statement regarding Richards' past, but it could have an impact on his ability to keep his hosting gig. Variety's report suggests that Richards is the frontrunner for the coveted role, but it is not a done deal just yet.
"A Sony Pictures spokesman said discussions were ongoing with several potential candidates. He would not comment specifically on Richards’ status. A source close to the situation cautioned that there’s no certainty that the sides will close a deal and that other candidates remain in the mix, although Richards is clearly the front-runner," the report states.
In the meantime, journalist David Faber will finish out his stint as the show's guest host.