Richards, a game show veteran who is already executive producer of “Jeopardy!” And his associated series “Wheel of Fortune” was named among defendants in multiple discrimination lawsuits filed during his 10-year career as executive producer of “The Price Is Right.”
One brought by former “Price Is Right” model Brandi Cochran in 2010 accused Richards of firing her because she got pregnant and had a difficult pregnancy. Another complaint filed in 2011 by “Price” model Lanisha Cole claimed she was wrongly fired and harassed on the set of the longtime game show. Richards was dismissed as a plaintiff in Cole’s 2013 lawsuit and the case was settled out of court.
Cochran’s lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against “Price” producer FremantleMedia, Richards and others on the show has been tried, where a jury awarded him $ 8 million in damages. This decision was overturned on appeal at the end of 2014 and the parties finally reached an agreement.
Court records in the Cochran case describe Richards as insensitive to her pregnancy to the point of expressing dismay after learning she was expecting twins. The producers of “Price” chose not to rehire Cochran in early 2010 after she had been on leave since January 2009.
According to documents filed by the court, Richards claimed that the reason Cochran was not bought out was because the show made changes to the line-up of on-air sets of models that interacted with the host Drew Carey. Richards said Cochran was a “good role model” but “wouldn’t lead us to great,” according to court documents. Richards was also heard from Cochran at the show’s 2008 holiday party, “Go figure I’m firing five models, what are the odds that one of the ones I’m keeping will get pregnant,” according to the ruling. 2014 appeal.
Cochran’s trial and trial have garnered a lot of media attention right now. But Richards’ association with the discrimination complaints was not addressed prominently in the “Jeopardy!” Social media world when Richards aired on air as a guest host in February and early March.
But details quickly came to the fore Thursday when observers online – including some who have expressed support for others’ “Jeopardy!” »Guests invited to take up the permanent position – weighed on Variety’s reported Wednesday that Richards was in advanced negotiations with “Jeopardy!” Sony Pictures TV producer for the post plum.
Richards was already facing a high bar to succeed Trebek, who was beloved by viewers and hailed for his graceful manners with “Jeopardy!” »Competitors.
Richards rose to the top of the list after months of guest hosts who were widely regarded as on-air auditions. Richards impressed Sony brass with his mastery of the show and his easy way to joke around with guests and provide clues. He’s considered a “game show guy,” according to a source familiar with the situation, who would maintain a strong enthusiasm for his work as a host and help keep the show fresh as it nears 40 years of premiere syndication. diffusion. ” Danger! Is extremely profitable for Sony.
It is not clear whether the sudden examination of the insensitivity and workplace discrimination allegations of the “Price Is Right” era litigation will hurt Richards’ chances of landing the “Jeopardy!” ” work. The discussion of Richards’ past on social media Thursday ranged from vitriolic condemnations of his alleged statements to rants about the excesses of ‘culture cancellation’ – before the post was officially handed over to anyone. it would be.
Richards has a long resume as a producer and a lot of on-air experience as well. A stand-up comedian after college, he previously hosted “High School Reunion” on the WB network, “Beauty and the Greek” for CW and “The Pyramid” for Sony’s cable company GSN. He was executive producer of CBS “Let’s Make a Deal” in addition to “Price”, just as he currently juggles “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” For Sony Pictures.
Richards joined Sony Pictures Television in 2019 and took the helm of “Jeopardy! And “Wheel” following the exit of longtime executive producer Harry Friedman in 2020. Richards also served as executive producer of the 2020 celebrity revival of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” for Sony.
During his stint as a guest host in February, Richards thanked Trebek and Dick Clark, the late producer and host who was Richards’ first mentor in the industry. Richards worked for “Beauty and the Geek” producer Dick Clark Prods., And the titular boss was a role model for his ambition to work in front of and behind the camera.
“I was the vice president of his company when I got the role of host ‘Beauty and the Geek’,” Richards said on social media. “I was concerned with producing for him and hosting at the same time. He said to me ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life, you’ll be awesome.’ “