October 24, 2021

‘Jeopardy!’ Host Frontrunner Mike Richards’ Alleged Historical past of Harassment, Discrimination

6 min read


Sorry, Studying Rainbow followers, however it seems LeVar Burton will not be the new host of Jeopardy! Neither will franchise stalwart Ken Jennings, Massive Bang Idea alum Mayim Bialik, or Anderson Cooper—all of whom loved well-liked runs as visitor hosts within the late Alex Trebek’s stead. In accordance with Variety, the long-running sport present is eyeing an in-house substitute for its 36-year emcee—government producer Mike Richards.

Richards has not been formally named but; Selection experiences that he’s in superior negotiations, and a supply informed The Every day Beast that discussions with potential hosts stay ongoing. Nonetheless, Richards’ choice has confirmed irritating to followers who noticed the parade of movie star visitor hosts as a sign that the present was dedicated to reviewing numerous candidates for the position.

Even worse, nonetheless, are the allegations from Richards’ previous with The Worth Is Proper—the place fashions accused producers of discrimination and harassment.

In 2010, mannequin Shane Stirling sued CBS and Worth Is Proper producer Fremantle Media North America on the grounds that she’d been let go from the present in 2008 because of her being pregnant. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, nonetheless, Stirling struggled to current ample proof to assist the declare in court docket.

Richards and his fellow producers claimed that they’d minimize the modeling pool from 10 to 5 with a purpose to focus on these with the most effective modeling chops and on-screen chemistry with newly named host Drew Carey. Stirling countered that had she been compelled to take much less day off after her being pregnant, she would have had a greater shot at retaining her job—however that was additionally not sufficient to sway the choose, who famous the statute of limitations on such a declare had already run out.

Richards…mentioned that he appreciated the fashions to look as in the event that they had been going out on a date. At his suggestion, fashions wore bikinis on the present extra often.

In the identical yr that Stirling filed her swimsuit, nonetheless, her fellow mannequin Brandi Cochran alleged in her personal grievance that the present’s producers engaged in discrimination after she turned pregnant. (Shegarian & Associates represented each Stirling and Cochran.)

Cochran’s suit alleged that she’d delayed attempting to have a baby as a result of she’d witnessed producers harassing two fellow fashions who had turn into pregnant whereas making the present and firing one other. In accordance with The Hollywood Reporter, Richards denied unfavorable therapy towards Cochran at trial.

When she received pregnant for the second time in 2008 after a miscarriage in 2007, the grievance alleges, Richards responded to the information she was having twins by “[putting] his face in his palms.”

“He requested her twice, in an aggravated tone, ‘Twins? Are you severe? … You’re severe?’”

As an government producer, the swimsuit provides, “Richards determined that the fashions’ skirts must be shorter and mentioned that he appreciated the fashions to look as in the event that they had been going out on a date. At his suggestion, fashions wore bikinis on the present extra often.”

Richards communicated with Cochran much less often and finally implied to her that had the present recognized about her being pregnant, she would have been fired, the grievance alleges. Cochran claimed that colleagues made enjoyable of her weight achieve and consuming habits in the course of the being pregnant—and that when she introduced she was having twins, she acquired much less work on the present.

Cochran misplaced one in all her twins as a result of an in-utero coronary heart defect, and the opposite was born three months untimely; because the mannequin struggled to course of the loss and look after her toddler’s particular wants, she additionally tried to drop a few pounds in order that she may return to work. It was solely after months of attempting to get a solution from producers that she allegedly came upon her contract had been terminated.

A jury awarded Cochran $8.5 million earlier than Los Angeles Superior Courtroom Choose Kevin Brazile overturned the outcomes. (Two months after Cochran gained her case, a Supreme Courtroom ruling had bolstered the protection’s argument that Brazile ought to have requested the jury to resolve whether or not the being pregnant was a galvanizing think about her dismissal.) Cochran and producers finally settled out of court docket.

In 2011, mannequin Lanisha Cole sued Richards, fellow producer Adam Sandler (not the comic), and Fremantle Media North America for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Cole’s complaint alleged that her first six years with the present after signing on in 2003 unfolded with out incident.

When she received pregnant for the second time in 2008 after a miscarriage in 2007, the grievance alleges, Richards responded to the information she was having twins by ‘[putting] his face in his palms.’

Towards the top of 2009, nonetheless, Richards allegedly started refusing to talk with Cole—about work-related issues or anything. He allegedly solely communicated together with her by means of colleagues. She later found that Richards had entered a “shut, private and intimate” relationship with one in all her fellow fashions, the grievance alleges.

On one other event, the lawsuit claims, Sandler burst into her dressing room regardless of an indication calling for company to knock. He allegedly berated her in entrance of her friends for not sporting a microphone as she stood there half-naked, clad solely in a sheer thong bikini backside.

Cole complained concerning the alleged dressing room incident throughout a gathering about sexual harassment involving one other mannequin. She claims that months later she was informed she couldn’t work for per week as a result of she needed to miss a day of labor as a result of a household dedication. Cole mentioned she stop the present after manufacturing did not correctly examine any of her claims. The swimsuit was settled in 2013, after Richards had been dismissed as a defendant.

A consultant for Sony Photos declined to touch upon the casting negotiations and Richards’ involvement within the lawsuits.

Richards’ unsavory historical past solely compounds the frustration that’s emerged amongst a wholesome contingent of followers. They surprise why Jeopardy! made such an enormous present of vetting a various set of candidates to succeed Trebek solely to decide on somebody from in home.

Though Richards carried out effectively throughout his guest-hosting slot, he solely signed onto the present as an government producer final yr. Richards’ credentials don’t look like sufficient to vault him above, say, Burton or Bialik, however as an alternative point out that Sony is sticking to enterprise as traditional.

As Salon TV critic Melanie McFarland put it in a Twitter thread concerning the resolution, Richards’ choice represents “a ‘clean transition’ technique through which the present’s calm and comforting familiarity isn’t totally upended… Richards was chosen regardless of the various instances made for ‘Jeopardy’ to show some dedication to range by deciding on a lady or an individual of colour as a result of…the job was all the time his.”

Ken Jennings, who maintains the report for many consecutive wins and has guest-hosted up to now, appeared like the obvious option to take over from Trebek. As The Wrap notes, he’s additionally the one visitor host who outperformed Richards in scores—though Nielsen scores for Burton’s run will not be but accessible. In accordance with Selection, each Bialik and bespectacled Jeopardy! champ Buzzy Cohen have additionally been “strongly thought of” for the gig.

Though followers are already dissatisfied on Burton’s behalf, the Star Trek alum appears to be taking it in stride. “I’ve mentioned many occasions over these previous weeks that regardless of the result, I’ve gained,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday. “The outpouring of affection and assist from household, mates, and followers alike has been unimaginable! If love is the final word blessing and I imagine that it’s, I’m really blessed past measure.”



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