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A Host of Questions Surround Mike Richards’ ‘Jeopardy!’ Prospects

Mike Richards
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

As many powerful figures with high-profile jobs could attest in recent years, past bad behavior has a way of coming back to haunt you in the #MeToo era. Just ask former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was forced to resign Tuesday after a damaging investigation concluded that he had sexually harassed 11 women.

When Variety broke the exclusive story on Aug. 4 that executive producer Mike Richards was in advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television to be tapped as the new host of its enormously profitable game show “Jeopardy!,” the news was met with decidedly mixed reactions on social media. Many were rooting for other more fan-favored candidates — such as LeVar Burton — to replace the game show’s late beloved long-running host, Alex Trebek, who died last November.

Variety TV critic Daniel D’Addario weighed in saying Richards, who also served a 10-year stint as executive producer of “The Price Is Right,” was an underwhelming option. “I’m among the audience members who’d hoped this choice might go a different way,” wrote our brainiac D’Addario, a lifelong fan of the show who at age 21 was a semifinalist on the 2010 “Jeopardy” College Championship, appearing in two episodes!

By Aug. 5, more public pushback against Richards surfaced, centering on the previous litigation in which he was named as a plaintiff. One of the suits had been brought by former “Price Is Right” model Brandi Cochran, who in 2010 accused her boss of firing her because she was pregnant. “Price” producers opted not to rehire Cochran in early 2010 after she had been out on leave since January 2009. In the court filings, Richards claimed the reason Cochran was not brought back was that the show made changes in the on-air lineup of models who interacted with host Drew Carey. Richards stated that Cochran was a “good model” but “would not take us to great.” The jury awarded her damages of $8 million, but the decision was overturned on appeal in late 2014, and the sides eventually settled.

In 2010, another suit involving Richards was filed by “Price” model Lanisha Cole, who asserted that she was wrongfully terminated and subject to harassment on the set of the show. In 2013, Richards was dismissed as a plaintiff, and the case was settled out of court.

Is Mike Richards the best candidate for the job? I wouldn’t bet the Daily Double on it.