This Is Why People Are Angry About the Frontrunner to Replace Alex Trebek
Executive producer Mike Richards is rumored to be the new host.
For months now, Jeopardy! has been on the search for a new host following the death of beloved longtime star Alex Trebek. A series of guest hosts have taken the game show stage, some just for fun and to support a charity and some as an actual audition to become the new host. Last week, reports came out that Mike Richards was supposedly close to becoming the new host of Jeopardy!. Richards is also the executive producer of the show and was the second guest host featured back in late February and early March.
The news led to immediate backlash. Not only do some fans have other hosts they prefer, but lawsuits involving Richards have resurfaced, which he has now responded to. Read on to find out why some viewers don't believe Richards is fit to host the show.
Richards worked on various other game shows before Jeopardy!
Richards has worked as both a host and a producer during his career. He hosted Beauty and the Geek and The Pyramid and has produced Weakest Link, The Price Is Right, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Richards was an executive producer of The Price Is Right from 2008 to 2019. He only became executive producer of Jeopardy!—and of Wheel of Fortune—last year.
He's reportedly in official talks to be the new permanent host of Jeopardy!.
On August 4, Variety reported that Richards was in "advanced negotiations" to be the new host of Jeopardy!. A spokesperson for the production company, Sony Pictures Television, told Variety that discussions were still ongoing with other candidates, as well. A "source close to the situation" told the publication that there were still other candidates being considered but that Richards was the frontrunner.
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The lawsuits resurfaced soon after.
Not long after the report about Richards potentially landing the job came out, the past lawsuits involving Richards began making headlines again. The Daily Beast published a report on Aug. 5 about multiple lawsuits that were brought forth by models working on The Price Is Right during Richards' time on the show.
For instance, one model claimed that she was let go from the show as a result of her pregnancy, but the judge dropped the case due to the statute of limitations running out. Another model claimed she was mistreated and witnessed other models being harassed by producers when they became pregnant. She claimed Richards' response to her pregnancy with twins was "[putting] his face in his hands" and asking "her twice, in an annoyed tone, 'Twins? Are you serious? … You're serious?'" She claimed she received less work as a result of her pregnancy. That model was awarded $8.5 million, but the decision was later reversed and the case was settled out of court.
Richards responded in an internal letter to the Jeopardy! staff.
On Monday, CNN reported on an internal memo that was sent from Richards to staff at Jeopardy! in which he addresses the reports that he will be the new host and comments on the lawsuits. According to CNN, a spokesperson at Sony Pictures Television shared the memo with the outlet.
"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," Richards wrote of the cases. "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."
Richards denied that he's hiring himself.
While Richards is the executive producer of Jeopardy!, it is not his decision who becomes the new host. CNN reports that the final decision-maker is Tony Vinciquerra, the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
In the memo, Richards says that other hosts are still be considered. "The choice on this is not my decision and never has been," the memo reads. "Throughout this search, Sony's top priority has always been to continue the incredible legacy you and Alex built. As you know, Alex always believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show, and that will continue to be the guiding principle as the decision is finalized."
There are other reasons for the backlash as well.
Many of the fan reactions on Twitter point out that Richards getting the job would make it seem as though the guest host auditions were just a formality. Others mention the lawsuits. Some fans talk about how it seemed that Jeopardy! might have moved forward with a woman or a non-white person in the role, since the guests hosts were somewhat diverse, but then seem to be going with a white man in the end. And many Twitter users are still arguing that guest host LeVar Burton would have been their choice.