Rumored new 'Jeopardy!' host Mike Richards under scrutiny for 2010 pregnancy discrimination suit
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Mike Richards — the leading candidate to become Alex Trebek’s permanent replacement on “Jeopardy!” — is facing public scrutiny once again for his decision to fire a model who became pregnant in 2010 while he served as co-executive producer on “The Price is Right.”
Richards, 46, is reported to be in “advanced discussions” for the position, becoming the apparent network favorite following a laundry list of temporary guest co-hosts.
Some of those filling in have been: Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Rodgers and the show’s winningest champion Ken Jennings.
Fans had pinned Jennings as Trebek’s likeliest successor after the popular host died in November of pancreatic cancer.
Mike Richards (L) is reportedly taking over for the late Alex Trebek (R)
Jeopardy fans were quick to criticize the replacement as word got out on Thursday, leading to a reexamination of the lawsuit against him, in which former model Brandi Cochran won more than $8.5 million in punitive damages from “The Price is Right” after it was determined the show discriminated against her because of her pregnancy.
Cochran said she was rejected by the game show’s producers when she tried to return from maternity leave in 2010, and filed a lawsuit against CBS and Fremantle Media.
Scared of being fired, Cochran did not tell anyone that she was pregnant with twins. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cochran testified, Richards “put his head in his hands,” when she told him. The next day, Richards allegedly stormed up to her and said, “Twins? Are you kidding? Are you serious?” the outlet reports.
At trial, Richards testified the show was relying upon fewer models and while Cochran was a “good model,” she “would not take us to great,” the Hollywood Reporter reported.
However, a judge voided the verdict over bad jury instructions after Fremantle Media appealed the decision. The case was later settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount in 2016, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
While Richards remained at “The Price is Right,” it faced additional unsuccessful pregnancy discrimination claims beyond those made by Cochran, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Richards has yet to openly comment on claims he will be dubbed the official host of “Jeopardy!”
According to Variety, Richards has produced over 4,000 hours worth of game show television, including “The Price is Right,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”
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