Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards had been dreaming of hosting a game show for years, and first had his sights set on The Price Is Right. Before he became the executive producer of the beloved daytime game show, he auditioned to replace Bob Barker, a legend as beloved as Alex Trebek, in 2007. That audition tape finally leaked on YouTube on Friday, the day after Richards dropped out of hosting Jeopardy!.
The audition tape runs just over 18 minutes and begins with the show’s filming date, March 12, 2007, several months before Drew Carey made his debut as Barker’s successor. The video is a fully produced Price Is Right episode, covering the first half of the show. We get to see how Richards would have interacted with contestants and even how he would recite the rules to Plinko. It’s not clear who posted the video, but it is an interesting look at an alternate universe.
After Richards didn’t get the job, he stayed on at The Price Is Right. In August 2008, Variety reported he was hired as co-executive producer for the show as part of its “efforts to attract a younger audience.” Richards, who previously hosted Beauty and the Geek and produced Weakest Link, remained at The Price is Right through the 2018-2019 TV season. Afterward, Sony Pictures Television hired him to replace the retiring Harry Friedman as executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
After Variety reported that Richards was in talks to become the permanent replacement for Trebek after a season full of guest hosts, Richards’ tenure at The Price Is Right came under scrutiny. First, the lawsuits involving models came to light. In one case, model Lanisha Cole claimed she was wrongfully terminated and often humiliated during Richards’ tenure. The case was eventually settled in 2013, with Richards dismissed as a defendant before the settlement was reached. In another lawsuit, Richards was accused of making disparaging remarks about pregnant women.
Richards next addressed the allegations in a memo to Jeopardy! staffers. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” he wrote in part. “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.”
Despite this situation, Sony still named Richards the next permanent host for Jeopardy! on Aug. 11, with actress Mayim Bialik hosting primetime specials. Then on Aug. 18, The Ringer journalist Claire McNear published an expose on Richards’ offensive comments during The Randumb Show, a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014 that was meant to focus on The Price Is Right production. Richards apologized for these comments as well, and the podcast was taken offline.
On Aug. 20, Richards and Sony announced he would no longer be hosting Jeopardy! and a new round of guest hosts will take over next season. Richards filmed five episodes before The Ringer‘s report was published and those will still air in September. Richards will remain executive producer for the time being.