About a week before the official announcement, a source told Variety that the producer was in the final stages of an agreement to become the full-time host. At that point, “Jeopardy!” viewers were really just waiting on that official announcement from the show’s executives.
The only surprise from it all is that Mayim Bialik will be the primetime host of any special tournaments. While viewers may not have been surprised by the news, the staff over at the “Jeopardy!” studio may have been a bit more startled by it all.
‘Jeopardy!’ Employees Blindsided By Host Selection
According to an article from The Ringer, a source close to the show said that employees were actually blindsided by the announcement from Sony. The source even went on to say that staff morale has taken a steep decrease after Richards was brought on as the executive producer in 2020.
In the past, Richards has worked on other game shows like “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” Apparently, he was best described as “exclusionary and dismissive of longtime show employees.” He has a long history of producing but always made it clear that his main goal was to host a game show at some point. He was one of the contenders for “The Price Is Right” hosting job as well.
Supposedly, other guest hosts were also considered for the job, but Mike Richards was just deemed the best fit.
Negative Fan Reaction and Lawsuits
While employees were blindsided, many fans reacted negatively as well. The main cause of concern seems to be that Richards is an inside source. So, it’s almost like he gave the job to himself. Other guest hosts such as Aaron Rodgers and LeVar Burton desperately shared their enthusiasm over getting the chance to host. Now many people feel like they never had a chance, to begin with.
The audition process for a “Jeopardy!” host, which had a lot of eyes on it, ended with someone that was once in charge of leading it. He allegedly stepped aside from the selection process once he became a possible candidate.
Another part of his controversy is due to lawsuits from his time with “The Price Is Right.” The lawsuits focused on the mistreatment of female employees. According to Entertainment Weekly, one suit was filed by Brandi Cochran in 2010. She worked as a model for the show. She was fired after giving birth and also detailed some of Richards’ inappropriate comments regarding the female modeling staff.
Mike Richards has since addressed the claims and even penned a letter to the crew working for “Jeopardy!”