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Jeopardy! host frontrunner Mike Richards faces scrutiny over past discrimination lawsuits

Who is Mike Richards? Potentially, the next host of Jeopardy!, but he's drawing new scrutiny among fans as the official announcement approaches. 

A report from Variety this week revealed that Richards, the executive producer of Jeopardy!, is in "advanced negotiations" to succeed Alex Trebek as host. The idea of ending the lengthy job search for Trebek's replacement by giving the role to the show's own producer already drew some pushback on social media, especially from fans who wanted the gig to go to another candidate like Ken Jennings or LeVar Burton. But now, Richards is also facing scrutiny over his involvement in past discrimination lawsuits.

Richards previously served as executive producer of The Price is Right, and in 2010, a former model for the show filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired by Richards because she became pregnant, according to Variety. "There existed some evidence that Richards harbored pregnancy-based animus," The Hollywood Reporter writes, and Cochran testified that when she told him she was pregnant with twins, Richards "put his head in his hands" and the following day told her, "Twins? Are you kidding? Are you serious?" He was also reportedly heard saying at a holiday party, "Go figure, I fire five models, what are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?" Richards denied not bringing Cochran back due to her pregnancy, saying she was a "good model" but "would not take us to great."  

Additionally, The Price is Right model Lanisha Cole filed a lawsuit in 2011 alleging she was wrongfully terminated and was harassed on the show, though Richards was dismissed as a plaintiff in this case, Variety reports. The new scrutiny raised some questions about whether Richards will still be tapped for the hosting job, although CNN reported his hiring is "effectively a done deal." Variety reported that The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik and former Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen had also been "strongly considered."