Just days after ousted Jeopardy! host and executive producer Mike Richards landed himself in controversy amid resurfaced reports of discrimination allegations during his time on The Price Is Right, Drew Carey took to social media in early August to voice his support for the controversial figure. Richards, whom Sony Pictures Television cut ties with this week, was one of several people named in a slew of lawsuits from models on the game show, but despite the allegations of discrimination made in the suits, Carey touted him as "great" as he contradicted the reports.
In a series of tweets published on Aug. 7, Carey, who has served as The Price Is Right's host since 2007 after succeeding longtime host Bob Barker, said he needed "to speak up for" Richards and his time on the game show. According to Carey, while "every TPIR model since I started got pregnant," he never witnessed Richards discriminate. Instead, Carey said Richards "built whole season arcs celebrating them. We even had Baby Shower shows for crying out loud." Carey added that Richards brought more freedom for the models, as they "weren't even allowed to talk to me before Mike came on the show. He took them from just bodies on the stage to actual people that audiences could get to know as part of the TPIR family." Carey applauded Richards as "great" and said he hoped Richards "gets to be the next Jeopardy host too."
🧵 I need to speak up for @MRichTV and his time at TPIR. Every TPIR model since I started got pregnant and he built whole season arcs celebrating them. We even had Baby Shower shows for crying out loud.— 🅳🆁🅴🆆 🅲🅰🆁🅴🆈 (@DrewFromTV) August 8, 2021
They weren’t even allowed to talk to me before Mike came on the show
Carey's tweet came just two days after a 2013-settled lawsuit resurfaced naming Richards, fellow The Price Is Right producer Adam Sandler, the production company FremantleMedia North America. The lawsuit had been filed by one of the show's models, Lanisha Cole, in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2011. Cole alleged wrongful constructive termination, wrongful harassment, failure to prevent/harassment, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. A separate lawsuit, filed by the show's model Brandi Cochran, alleged that after she "revealed that she was carrying twins," Richards "put his face in his hands. He asked her twice, in an annoyed tone, 'Twins? Are you serious? ... You're serious?' After that, Cochran was booked to work less often and was repeatedly taken out of acts she would have appeared in before." Both lawsuits were later settled, and Richards was dismissed as a defendant in Cole's lawsuit on April 4, 2013.
As the lawsuits resurfaced, Richards released a statement addressing "the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago," explaining that "these were allegations made in employment disputes against the show." Richards said, "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."
Richards' statement did little to quell the growing controversy, and just nine days after he was named Trebek's permanent replacement, Richards stepped down from the role. In a memo at the time, Richards said staying on as host "would be too much of a distraction for the show," adding that, "it pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a fresh chapter." A little more than a week later, Sony Pictures Television confirmed Richards had been ousted as Jeopardy! executive producer. In a memo to staff, Suzanne Prete, executive vice president, business and strategy, said, "We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened."