This question best describes the ongoing process to announce the new permanent Jeopardy! host: “What is ‘a hot mess?’”
In case you missed it (in which case, I’d like to apologize to LeVar Burton fans for bursting your still-hopeful bubble), word on the game show streets is that Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards has been the reported frontrunner to replace the late Alex Trebek as the permanent host.
As The Root’s contributing entertainment writer Shanelle Genai wrote to sum up pretty much everyone’s feelings, “I am confusion.” Sure, this was the guy who paid tribute to Alex and announced the late beloved host’s last episodes, but everyone and their mama with sense figured he’d remain in the background doing…executive producer-y things. Not trying to be all up in the video, all on the record, dancin’! WE WANT LEVAR, DAMMIT.
However, Richards’ promising new gig could be in jeopardy (ha!), due to the resurfacing of a 2011 civil lawsuit filed by former Price Is Right model Lanisha Cole in which she alleged that she “was wrongfully terminated, constantly humiliated and berated in front of her peers by Richards and an additional producer.” Additionally, Richards was named in a 2012 lawsuit involving another Price Is Right model Brandi Cochran, who claimed gender-based discrimination, including allegedly implying she would be fired from the show if she did not keep her pregnancy at the time a secret.
“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 to Jeopardy! staff on Monday, per Deadline (where you can also read the full memo). “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.”
In other news, let’s slide on over to the end of the rainbow and retrieve our pot of gold known as LeVar Burton, who took to Twitter to express his gratitude at the ongoing mass support, even following the news of Mike’s frontrunner status.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” Burton tweeted late last week. “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.”
LeVar is right—though I hope Jeopardy! makes the best decision and hires him, I ultimately hope his next chapter involves a space where he is completely celebrated and his worthiness is appreciated.
“So grateful and humbled,” Burton tweeted, reflecting on his previous week as Jeopardy’s guest host. “Thank you everyone for this opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you to the folks at Jeopardy! and the Sony team and to the contestants. What a week!”
What a man!