As Jeopardy! continues to catch flack from fans for casting executive producer Mike Richards as its new permanent host, many fans are looking back on the opinion of the late Alex Trebek. Back in 2018, Trebek gave an interview about his legacy on the quiz show with TMZ, discussing — among other things — who he thought should replace him when he left. There are many interpretations of his comments, but few point back to Richards as the obvious choice.
Trebek passed away in November of 2020 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. After 37 seasons of hosting Jeopardy!, Trebek left the show with no precedent for replacing its host, but he did have some opinions about who should take over. Trebek spoke to TMZ‘s Harvey Levin in 2018, long before his cancer diagnosis, at a time between contract renewals when he was simply musing on a possible retirement. When Levin asked for specific suggestions, Trebek proposed two possible new hosts for Jeopardy!: sportscaster Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
Who Alex Trebek wanted to replace him.
It’s all coming together now… pic.twitter.com/sklq9QZQbu
— ⭐️ with a Y ⭐️ (@wyntermitchell) August 19, 2021
“The fellow that does play-by-play for the Los Angeles Kings, they should consider him,” Trebek said at the time. When Levin asked about a more diverse option, Trebek said: “There is an attorney, Laura Coates, she’s African American and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time.”
Neither Coates nor Faust was included in the list of guest hosts that took over Jeopardy! this year. However, both expressed their gratitude towards Trebek for the endorsements. Coates tweeted: “Incredibly honored and humbled [that] Alex Trebek 1) knows who I am 2) thinks I’d be a great host of my fave game show ever that I grew up watching [with] my family and still watch [with] my own kids (who saw him say this and now think I’m a genius).”
“I guess there are worse ways to randomly see your name show up on TMZ!” Faust added. “I’m flattered by Mr. Trebek’s kind words, and delighted to hear he’s a big L.A. Kings fan!”
I’m profoundly saddened by the passing of Alex Trebek. When my own grandmother lost her battle w/ pancreatic cancer, the void she left was devastating & unimaginable. I pray his family will feel the love we all feel thinking of the mark this humble legend has left on the world.
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) November 8, 2020
Jeopardy! employed a long list of guest hosts this season for one or two weeks each, teasing that one of them would be chosen as the new permanent host at the end of the season. Among them were actors, athletes and news personalities, all of whom fans were enthusiastic about. In the end, the decision to cast Richards instead struck many as a bait-and-switch. However, the backlash was so fierce that Richards himself decided to step away from the job, leaving it open now and in need of fulfillment.
Actress Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy! special event episodes and spinoffs this fall, and there’s no word on who will host the regular show just yet. So far, there are no premiere dates for these programs in place.