Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is reportedly in “advance” talks to become the next permanent host of the beloved game show, replacing the late Alex Trebek. Richards was among the guest hosts during the past season of Jeopardy!, which comes to an end with Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck’s turn at the podium next week. He was also one of the lesser-known guest hosts, making his selection confusing to some outside observers. Fans also discovered Richards’ controversial time at The Price Is Right, which included sexual harassment allegations.

Back in 2011, Richards and another Price Is Right producer, Adam Sandler, were sued by model Lanisha Cole, who claimed she was wrongly terminated and frequently humiliated behind the scenes. Richards, Sandler, and production company FremantleMedia North America were listed as defendants when the case was first filed. The lawsuit was settled in May 2013, a month after Richards was dismissed as a defendant.

In the lawsuit, Cole claimed Richards started ignoring her and favored another model starting in December 2009. Cole accused Richards of hurting her modeling work by creating rules that “never before existed.” Cole also accused Sandler of walking into her dressing room when she was topless and reprimanding her in front of other models. During her deposition, Cole claimed that the incident happened when she couldn’t participate in an on-stage routine with host Drew Carey because she didn’t have a microphone. She left the show in late 2010, claiming her complaints were not investigated.

1) Richards was named in a lawsuit by former “Price is Right” model Lanisha Cole. Cole accused Richards of “berating her in front of her peers.”

The lawsuit was settled in 2013 and Richards was dismissed as a defendant before a settlement was reached.https://t.co/YN8OauT051

— Roey Hadar (@roeyhadar) August 4, 2021

Other models sued The Price Is Right during Richards’ time at the show, reports the Daily Beast. In 2010, Shane Stirling sued CBS and Fremantle because she was allegedly let go from the show in 2008 because of her pregnancy. The suit did not go far though, since the judge said the statute of limitations had expired and said she didn’t have enough evidence.

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This will kill Jeopardy. With great alternative hosts available it seems extraordinarily idiotic.

— Stiff L Man (@Stiffelman) August 5, 2021

Another model, Brandi Cochran, claimed she faced discrimination from Price is Right producers after she became pregnant. Cochran claimed she held off on getting pregnant because she saw how poorly other models were treated. During the trial, Richards denied the allegations. In 2008, Richards allegedly was “annoyed” when Cochran told him she was pregnant with twins. The complaint also alleged that Richards “decided that the models’ skirts should be shorter and said that he liked the models to look as if they were going out on a date. At his suggestion, models wore bikinis on the show more frequently.”

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Congrats to the new Jeopardy host, Bad Guy from Every High School Movie Ever Made. pic.twitter.com/1ERth9D75H

— George Wallace (@MrGeorgeWallace) August 5, 2021

Cochran claimed Richards spoke to her less and “implied” that if he knew about her pregnancy earlier, she would have been fired. Cochran lost one of the twins due to an in-utero heart defect and the other was born prematurely. She claimed she rushed to lose weight to get back to work, but later found out she was fired. The jury awarded Cochran $8.5 million, but that was overturned and the two sides settled out of court.

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Also, if they don’t like the choices they had, the show should audition more guest hosts. I think Rashida Jones would be superb.

— Nell Scovell (@NellSco) August 5, 2021

Sony Pictures Television, which produces Jeopardy! hasn’t responded to the allegations yet. Sources told Variety that Richards’ talks with the studio are still ongoing. One source said there was “no certainty” and that other candidates are still in the mix. Richards previously hosted the game shows Divided and The Pyramid and the reality shows Beauty and the Geek and High School Reunion. Aside from The Price Is Right, he was a producer on Let’s Make a Deal.

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Ohhhhhhh now that’s garbage. Welp, looks like I’ll only be watching re-runs of Jeopardy from here on out.

— Lester Lee (@lesterleesm) August 6, 2021

Former Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings was considered a frontrunner to host, but his own controversies may have kept Sony from considering him. Another former contestant, Buzzy Cohen, earned rave reviews when he hosted the Tournament of Champions this season. Buck is the last guest host of the season, as he hosts the Aug. 9-13 episodes.

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Apparent new #Jeopardy host Mike Richards part of hostile work environment for pregnant women. Privilege at its worst. https://t.co/WxvVJEi8Si

— Julie T (@JulieTruly123) August 5, 2021

Many fans hoped actor LeVar Burton would get the job. He thanked fans for their support after he hosted the series for a week. “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” he wrote. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”

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