Mike Richards has been deemed the frontrunner in becoming the new permanent host of Jeopardy! — and fans are not too pleased about the news.
After it was revealed that the current executive producer may be taking over the late Alex Trebek's role as host of the elevated quiz show — Variety reported Richards was in "advanced negotiations" with Sony Pictures Television — his past involvement with sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits became a hot topic of discussion online.
"I remembered when Mike Richards got sued for sexual harassment," one of the many critics tweeted. "Now he gets to host Jeopardy. #NoWords."
"Wait mike richards, who no one had heard of until today, who is also an executive producer of jeopardy, CHOSE HIMSELF TO BE THE NEW JEOPARDY HOST??" tweeted another, while a third added: "Mike Richards I have known who you are for twenty-four hours and that is more than enough time goodbye."
The lawsuits in question were reportedly filed by former models Brandi Cochran and Lanishia Cole from The Price is Right while Richards served as the producer on the show.
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.
The 50-year-old claimed that after she became pregnant, Richards wouldn't interact with her as much, alleging she would've been fired if she hadn't kept her pregnancy a secret. Cochran also claimed she was forced to announce her pregnancy on-air. After she disclosed she was carrying twins, she stated she was given even less work and subjected to cruel jokes about her weight.
According to Cochran, she was pressured to lose weight at the time, only to discover she had been taken off the show's website. The Miss Teen USA 1989 winner revealed one of her babies died in a miscarriage, while the other was reportedly born three months prematurely.
On the other hand, Cole directly sued Richards, another producer named Adam Sandler (no connection to the actor) and Richards' company in a 2011 lawsuit, citing wrongful termination and sexual harassment.
The 39-year-old insisted the producers would humiliate and berate her in front of fellow employees. She also claimed, per her lawsuit, Richards began ignoring her and favoring a fellow model, whom he had a relationship with in 2009. According to Cole, Richards created policies "which never before existed," in order to limit her work on the show.
"This case is about senior-level men in the entertainment industry exploiting power and control over women by bullying and harassing female talent," Cole's attorney, Solomon Gresen, reportedly stated at the time. "Ms. Cole did nothing to provoke Richards and Sandler. Once the harassment began, she was powerless to stop it."
Cochrin's lawsuit was eventually settled, and Richards was dismissed as a defendant in Cole's lawsuit, which was reportedly settled in 2013.