It looks like someone really does not want “Jeopardy” executive producer Mike Richards to be the next full-time host of the show.
After it was announced last week that Richards is being seriously considered as the new permanent host of the game show, fans went into an uproar on Twitter. They let their disappointments be known after the famed game show did not choose someone else from their list of guest celebrity hosts, which included LeVar Burton, who showed major interest in the role, Katie Couric, Mayim Bialik, NFL player Aaron Rogers and many more.
Although it is not set in stone that Richards would be the next host, many clearly weren’t happy with the report; and now there’s news coming out about Richards’ past legal battles.
Before working at “Jeopardy” Richards was an executive producer for the game shows “Let’s Make a Deal” and “The Price Is Right.” During his time at “The Price Is Right” a model named Shane Stirling sued the show’s producers and CBS in 2010 for firing her in 2008 after getting pregnant. She wasn’t able to provide enough evidence to prove her case, which led the judge to dismiss it.
But it did not stop there. Brandi Cochran also sued the show and CBS in part, according to the lawsuit, for “discrimination on the basis of pregnancy” and “harassment on the basis of pregnancy.” Cochran claims the show’s producer Kathy Greco made inappropriate comments about the model suspecting she had gotten pregnant due to her weight gain. Cochran was initially pregnant with twins, but experienced a miscarriage with one of them. Once Greco learned of the miscarriage her response reportedly was it’s “nature’s way of getting rid of a bad baby.”
As for Richards, when he found out she was pregnant he allegedly “did not talk to her as frequently as before,” the lawsuit states. Around 2007, comedian Drew Carey became the new host as a replacement for Bob Barker. With that, the game show made several changes, including with the models — going from 10 models to five. When Richards heard of Cochran’s pregnancy his reaction according to one of the other models was “Go figure! I fire five girls . . . what are the odds?” According to the documents, Cochran said when she heard of this she interpreted this as, “Richards would have selected her for layoff if he had known that she was going to get pregnant.”
His response reportedly wasn’t any better when he discovered that she was giving birth to twins. He allegedly asked in an “annoyed tone,” according to the suit: “Twins? Are you serious? . . . You’re serious?” After giving birth in 2009, Cochran said her premature daughter had pulmonary problems and had to stay in the hospital for three months. Cochran worked to lose weight so that she could get back on the show but in her absence, she discovered having been “removed from the show’s website.” Reportedly by 2010, Greco called and informed her that she was terminated.
She won $7.7 million in punitive damages. By 2011, producers for “The Price Is Right” were hit with another lawsuit by another one of their models, Lanisha Cole, who complained of wrongful termination and sexual harassment by Richards and another producer Adam Sandler (not the famed actor). She said Richards would chastise and scold her after he began dating another model, toward whom he showed favoritism.
Cole accused Sandler of bursting into the ladies’ changing room and berating her while she was topless in front of other women. She quit the show three months later, reportedly after the company refused to investigate her complaints.
Her lawyer Solomon Gresen said, “This case is about senior-level men in the entertainment industry exploiting power and control over women by bullying and harassing female talent. Ms. Cole did nothing to provoke Richards and Sandler. Once the harassment began, she was powerless to stop it.”
The judge dismissed Richards from the case, and Cole and the company settled in 2013.
Richards has released a statement about the past lawsuits resurfacing. He said, “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 later added, “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.”