A few years before he died, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek said that CNN legal analyst Laura Coates was someone he thought would make a good replacement for him should he retire.
It seems “Jeopardy!” producers thought otherwise, however; according to Coates, she reached out after Trebek’s November 2020 death, but was rejected.
Trebek first mentioned Coates as a possible replacement while speaking to TMZ in July, 2018. (Los Angeles Kings TV commentator Alex Faust was his other pick at the time.) Trebek mentioned Coates again in 2019.
“I actually was as shocked as anyone else was when he first said it … and I was thrilled when he said my name,” Coates told Tamron Hall on Monday.
“I thought, ‘My God. This person that I have watched my whole life really, even knows my name let alone thinks that I would be worthy enough to fill his shoes which frankly can’t be filled?” she said.
But Coates said she was shut down when she reached out to the quiz show’s producers when they were auditioning potential hosts.
“I asked for the opportunity when it came time, when they were looking for people to possibly fill in,” she told Hall. “I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed. I asked for the opportunity. I was told, ‘No.'”
Former “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards, who had overseen the search for a replacement, named himself as the new host in August 2021, prompting heavy backlash against what critics said was a rigged selection process. It ultimately came to nothing, however, as Richards ended up fired less than a week later, after past offensive comments, and his involvement in a wrongful termination lawsuit, came to light.
Prior to all that, fans were upset that Coates didn’t even get to try out. After the scandal broke, she tweeted this Trebek quote: “Don’t tell me what you believe in. I’ll observe how you behave and I will make my own determination.”
Mayim Bialik, who was originally named to host “Jeopardy!” primetime specials and former contestant Ken Jennings currently share co-hosting duties of the daytime show.
Representatives for Jeopardy and for Coates didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap