‘Jeopardy’ slammed after Levar Burton snubbed as host: ‘Who is Mike Richards?’
Variety says Burton won't be replacing Alex Trebex as its host. An executive producer on the show will.
Fans of the legendary game show Jeopardy and of former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton are crying foul after it was revealed that a new permanent host has been chosen — and it isn’t Burton.
“YALL COULD HAVE A WHOLE ICONIC LEVAR BURTON BUT YOU PICKING CHAD MCWHITERSON FOR… WHAT???,” wrote Luvvie Ajayi on Twitter. “I just saw this guy’s pic and FORGOT WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE. That’s how template face he is. I’m so annoyed.”
“Jeopardy hiring their Executive Producer,” she added, after running us thru all these months of guest hosts, including one who is a beloved and iconic LITERACY advocate, is some premium foolishment.”
The news came in the form of a report Wednesday from Variety that declares Mike Richards, an executive producer who guest hosted not long after the November death of Alex Trebek, is in advanced negotiations to become the permanent Jeopardy host.
Variety notes that no Sony executives would confirm the report, but that sources say Richards is the front-runner. He had previously hosted Divided and The Pyramid, two other series on the Game Show Network, as well as several reality shows. He has also produced more than 4,000 hours of game shows.
Despite Richards’ resume, Burton fans on Twitter are incensed. A social media campaign to get the beloved literacy guru named first as guest host and then as a permanent host was widely popular.
Karen Hunter posited about Richards: “They knew that’s who they wanted from the very beginning … got us sucked into their celebrity dog-and-pony show. And because of that, I’m out!”
Burton reacted to the outpouring public support on Thursday, tweeting, “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. 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.”
Another report that may be even more infuriating for the alleged new show host is that he and another executive producer were sued for sexual harassment during their time on The Price is Right.
Black model Lanisha Cole claimed in her lawsuit that the harassment started in Dec. 2009, when Richards began ignoring her and favoring another model with whom he was having a relationship, according to CBS News.
The suit, which was filed in 2010, alleges that Cole’s career on the show was hindered by the actions of the producers. The suit was settled in 2013, and Richards was ultimately dismissed as a plaintive in the case.
Even without the news about the lawsuit, longtime Jeopardy watchers are hurt for Burton, the iconic show host in the 1980s who was an engaging Jeopardy guest host just last week.
“Levar Burton was given 1 week, instead of the 2 weeks every other guest host had,” one fan tweeted. “And, his week was during the Olympics, so preempted in a lot of places. This choice is disappointing but not surprising.”