After longtime producer Mike Richards was named the frontrunner in becoming the new permanent host of Jeopardy!, reports surfaced of his past involvement with two sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits during his tenure at The Price is Right.
The lawsuits were reportedly filed by former models Brandi Cochran and Lanishia Cole from The Price is Right while Richards served as the producer on the hit daytime gameshow. Richards wasn't named as a defendant in Cochran's 2010 lawsuit; however, she sued his company, FremantleMedia North America — according to Radar — and The Price Is Right Productions, Inc., insisting producers harassed and sidelined her after they found out she was pregnant.
Now, Richards has broken his silence, and addressed the damning allegations in a letter to his staff. “I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago,” Richards wrote in a memo released today.
“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," he wrote, reported Deadline. 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 continued: “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.”
As OK! previously reported, Cochran claimed that after she became pregnant, Richards distanced himself from her. She also alleged that after she disclosed she was carrying twins, she was given less work and subjected to cruel jokes about her weight.
Cole directly sued Richards and another producer named Adam Sandler (no connection to the actor) and Richards' company in a 2011 lawsuit, citing wrongful termination and sexual harassment. The former model insisted the producers would humiliate and berate her in front of other employees.
As far as Richards' pending deal to take over for the late beloved host Alex Trebek, he stated that he was asked to “consider hosting the show,” but “no final decisions" have been made. “Discussion with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing,” he added.