“Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards has weighed in for the first time on the prospect that he may be named the show’s permanent host, and he addressed decade-old allegations made against him as part of employment disputes during his tenure as executive producer of “The Price Is Right.”
In a memo sent Monday morning to employees of the Sony Pictures TV-produced quiz show, Richards said he was “humbled and deeply honored” to be considered a potential successor to Alex Trebek, who fronted “Jeopardy!” for nearly 37 years before his death last November.
Richards emerged publicly as the front-runner for the job last week after Variety reported he was in advanced negotiations for the job. Within hours, details of litigation from the past decade during his time as executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal,” which FremantleMedia North America produces for CBS, surfaced.
Richards was accused of pregnancy discrimination in two complaints filed by former “Price Is Right” models. He was accused of making insensitive statements and taking other questionable actions around models on the show who became pregnant.
“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,’ ” Richards wrote. “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.”
Richards’ backstory and debate about whether he was a fit for the long-term gig on “Jeopardy!” have swirled for days on social media. On Saturday, Richards got a notably public boost of support from “Price Is Right” host Drew Carey. Carey credited Richards with making the show’s famous showroom models a much bigger part of the show.
“He took them from just bodies on the stage to actual people that audiences could get to know as part of the TPIR family,” Carey wrote. “He’s great. And I hope he gets to be the next Jeopardy host, too.”
🧵 I need to speak up for @MRichTV and his time at TPIR. Every TPIR model since I started got pregnant and he built whole season arcs celebrating them. We even had Baby Shower shows for crying out loud.
They weren’t even allowed to talk to me before Mike came on the show
— 🅳🆁🅴🆆 🅲🅰🆁🅴🆈 (@DrewFromTV) August 8, 2021
Evelyn Warfel, a longtime “Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal” producer, also endorsed Richards as a sympathetic boss during her pregnancy in a tweet sent on Sunday.
“He was beyond supportive both during and after my pregnancy, which as a new mom meant the world to me,” Warfel wrote. “It’s not easy juggling both and he was always empathetic.”
Yes…all of this! I worked with Mike for 13 years and I couldn’t have asked for a better producing partner. He was beyond supportive both during and after my pregnancy, which as a new mom meant the world to me. It’s not easy juggling both and he was always empathetic.
— Evelyn Warfel (@EveWarfel) August 9, 2021
Here is Richards full memo to “Jeopardy!” staff:
Recently, Jeopardy!, our host search and the possibility of me hosting has been all over the news. I want to take a moment so that you can hear directly from me. The last year has been the most challenging in the history of the show. I know we are all still dealing with the loss of our hero, Alex, while at the same time continuing to produce amazing shows for our millions of fans through the pandemic. Our success over that time with our guest-host rotation, including the more than $3 million we raised for charities, is a singular achievement and a testament to your talent and dedication. I’ve produced a lot of television over the years, and I could not be more impressed with team Jeopardy!
It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show. I was humbled and deeply honored. No final decisions have been made and discussions with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing. I know I have mentioned this to you all before, but the choice on this is not my decision and never has been. Throughout this search, Sony’s top priority has always been to continue the incredible legacy you and Alex built. As you know, Alex always believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show, and that will continue to be the guiding principle as the decision is finalized.
I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago. 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. 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.
I am very proud of my time on The Price Is Right and Let’s Make a Deal. During my tenure, our female cast members welcomed seven beautiful children. We embraced and celebrated each pregnancy and birth both in front of and behind the camera. It was a joy to watch their families grow and highlight their happiness as part of the show.
For us, I realize there is a lot going on right now as we ramp up for the new season. Please do not hesitate to reach out of you have any questions or concerns.
It is truly an honor to get to work with all of you to produce this amazing show, and I look forward to the days ahead as we get back into production.