Guy No One Wanted To Host Jeopardy Will Not Be Hosting Jeopardy
Last week, "Jeopardy' announced that after a summer full of guest hosts, the guy replacing former host Alex Trebek would be Mike Richards. "Who?" said some, "Like the guy who played Kramer?" said others, "But we wanted LeVar Burton!" said a whole lot of people. "Oh wow, that is an excellent choice, glad they went with him," said basically no one.
And now, he is stepping down. Not because he was "meh"-ed to death, but because it turns out that he has a previously established history of being a jackass — a history which came with a number of lawsuits for shitty behavior while he was working on "The Price Is Right."
Claire McNear, the recent author of a book on "Jeopardy," reported on many of Richards's "issues" this week for The Ringer:
One suit was filed in 2010 by Brandi Cochran, who worked as a model on the show. It centered on the discrimination and harassment she said she experienced after becoming pregnant. At the time, The Price Is Right had recently laid off several models; the suit says that after Cochran informed Richards of her pregnancy, he "said to her, 'Go figure! I fire five girls ... what are the odds?'" which Cochran understood "to mean that Richards would have selected her for layoff if he had known that she was going to get pregnant." After giving birth, she learned that her contract had been terminated.
Cochran's lawsuit also detailed Richards's input on what the show's models should wear. "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," the suit says. "At his suggestion, models wore bikinis on the show more frequently."
McNear also detailed the weaselly way Richards Eve Harrington-ed his way into the hosting position, by using his job as a producer to get himself his own two-week audition for the show after Ken Jennings had one small conflict, and perhaps even made it so fan favorite LeVar Burton only got one week for an audition, whereas everyone else got two — and had to film six episodes in a row in the span of one day. Which, you know, just did not seem fair.
The fact that the immediate thought for a Trebek replacement for many people, myself included, was LeVar Burton, really says a lot about both of these men and how much people love the show. Burton was a calming, joyful presence in our childhoods and has not done anything horrifically disappointing in later years. He is a nice guy who wants kids to read books. Trebek was the nice man who hosted "Jeopardy" and never seemed smarmy like some other game show hosts out there. No one wants "Jeopardy" to feel fraught. And granted, no one wants anything to feel fraught, but a guy who wants more models in bikinis and fires women as retaliation for getting pregnant is like, pretty much the definition of what people just really did not want for "Jeopardy."
It is, frankly, the exact same reason people are not too thrilled with Mayim Bialik as the host of the primetime version of the show and upcoming specials. It's a little hard to feel too warmly toward her after she wrote that victim-blaming op-ed for The New York Times in which she said the reason she was never a victim of that kind of predation was because she dressed modestly and was not a "perfect 10."
It should not be that hard to find someone who is nice and not a predator or a predator-apologist to host "Jeopardy." Surely, Sony can figure this out.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse