Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards has been named as Alex Trebek‘s likely successor, and fans are not happy.
He is addressing the backlash, much of which results from a decade-old Price Is Right lawsuit.
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago,” Richards wrote in a memo to the Jeopardy! staff today. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. 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. 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.”
During Richards’ time as exec producer of The Price Is Right, he was named in discrimination lawsuits by former models on the show. Brandi Cochran was ultimately awarded $8.5 million in damages; there was an appeal, and the case was settled out of court. Cochran’s suit alleged that he made insensitive comments to pregnant women. Another suit was also settled.
He also set out to refute claims that he essentially appointed himself: “It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show. I was humbled and deeply honored. No final decisions have been made and discussions with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing. I know I have mentioned this to you all before, but the choice on this is not my decision and never has been. 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.”
LeVar Burton was the fan favorite to replace Trebek, with Ken Jennings, Aaron Rodgers, Mayim Bialik and Robin Roberts also appearing to be in the running.