The search to replace the beloved longtime Jeopardy! host was bound to upset people. There’s simply no way to replace an icon such as Alex Trebek without all hell breaking loose, but did producers anticipate the level of backlash that’s going down against new full-time host Mike Richards? That’s a tough one. Richards’ history of troubling remarks, as newly unearthed in a lengthy report from The Ringer’s Claire McNear, give a really bad look, in addition to what’s already been known about Richards’ controversial past as a game-show producer. Yes, the show’s spotlight won’t entirely be on Richards, since Mayim Bialik will host the Jeopardy! prime time incarnation and spinoffs, but it’s hard to imagine that producers couldn’t do better than Mike Richards in finding a host who could be embraced by the audience.
Perhaps there’s a silent majority who won’t mind Richards on their screens almost daily, but yikes, the guy even helped pick himself as host, and even John Oliver made mention of what a fiasco this is turning out to be. LeVar Burton is still riding high in fan polls, even if he didn’t pull in ratings, and one would think that, yeah, at this point, multiple other guest hosts (not Dr. Oz) would be preferable to what’s going on with Richards. And this brings to mind — or at least, a lot of people are noticing now — how Alex Trebek sat down in 2018 with TMZ’s Harvey Levin (on Fox News’ OBJECTified program) and named some people who he wouldn’t mind seeing replace him.
Among those that Trebek singled out? A Black female attorney and legal analyst, Laura Coates, who’s known by CNN viewers and as the host of Sirius XM’s The Laura Coates Show. “There is an attorney, Laura Coates,” Trebek declared. “She’s African-American and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time.” Back in March of 2020, Yashar Ali tweeted this clip while questioning why Coates wasn’t on the guest-host list as Jeopardy! went through its selection process.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 10, 2021
Yep, in 2018, Coates heard about how Trebek namedropped her and tweeted that she was “Incredibly honored & humbled” that 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 w/ my family & still watch w/ my own kids (who saw him say this & now think I’m a genius).”
Incredibly honored & humbled @Jeopardy 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 w/ my family & still watch w/ my own kids (who saw him say this & now think I'm a genius) #Dying https://t.co/qdMxWc9g5e via @TMZ
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) July 30, 2018
This week, she also vaguely tweeted about Trebek without context or without mentioning the controversy swirling around Richards.
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) August 19, 2021
By the way, there’s more of that Levin-Trebek interview, too, if you’d like to watch, but for now, people (some of whom are noticing the Yashar tweet for the first time) are really focused on Coates and wondering why she didn’t get a guest-hosting shot.
WAIT… Alex Trebek actually wanted a BLACK WOMAN to take his place on @Jeopardy
instead the show let a sexist white man appoint HIMSELF?! https://t.co/k4FWeAbce1
— Chuck Todd's shamble bangs (@Drea_got_rage) August 19, 2021
Again if I worked in television in any position where I could pitch a quiz show right now?
You could own that Jeopardy slot. Hire Laura Coates. Hire LeVar Burton.
Bam, collect your coins.https://t.co/PJONsCNZjd
— Mistress Emma Evans (@MelanieMoore) August 19, 2021
I had heard that he wanted Laura Coates – this just tops off the Jeopardy host controversy 👇🏽 https://t.co/5xqOUu1rJx
— Sue Scoby (@SueScoby) August 19, 2021
— 📢 𝕁𝕠𝕤𝕙 💬 (@JoshHubama) August 19, 2021
Jeopardy could've hired Laura Coates like Alex wanted or go with LeVar but now they got PR nightmare.
Because they gave the job to a wholeass sleazeball that had no business getting the job.
Now they in the news cycle for all the wrong reasons. https://t.co/nFfYjSKXt2
— Jeffrey Rousseau (@JRpotential) August 19, 2021
Straight from the horse's mouth, though we don't know if there was more that TMZ cut out.
I also wouldn't call it "naming a successor". Alex said they should "consider" Alex Faust and then Laura Coates.https://t.co/v2yiUBfJBV
— David Sullivan (@tbonesullivan) August 19, 2021
— Lisa Hamner (@lisa_hamner) August 19, 2021
One can imagine there’s a lot of discussions happening right now with the Jeopardy Productions powers that be.