In a 2018 interview, Trebek named CNN legal analyst Coates as his potential replacement at the show’s helm.
After weeks of searching for a new host of Jeopardy — an effort that included a popular petition requesting LeVar Burton take over the role held for years by the late Alex Trebek — Sony Pictures Television chose executive producer Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik as the co-hosts of the game show.
However, in a July 2018 interview with TMZ founder Harvey Levin for his show OBJECTified, Trebek named several potential replacements. He first suggested Alex Faust, the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings, or Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. But, when asked to suggest a female replacement, Trebek named CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
At the time, Coates tweeted that she was “incredibly honored” and “humbled” that Trebek knew who she was and thought she would “be a great host of my fave game show ever that I grew up watching” with her family and continues to watch with her children.
Late “Jeopardy!” legend Alex Trebek (left) reportedly wanted Laura Coates (right) to replace him at the game show’s host. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
While dozens of guest hosts “auditioned” for the role, Coates was not one of them.
The video resurfaced after new hosts Richards and Bialik were officially named and elements of Richards’ past have returned to light, including that he was once named in a sexual harassment lawsuit when he was a producer on The Price is Right.
As previously reported, 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 plaintiff in the case.
While Coates has not addressed the video of Trebek’s choice of her resurfacing, she posted a quote from the late host on Wednesday, writing, “One of my favorite #AlexTrebek quotes. #WednesdayWisdom.”
The quote read: “Don’t tell me what you believe in. I’ll observe how you behave and I will make my own determination.”
One fan replied, “Miss Laura, the REAL heir apparent.”
Coates, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, has been a legal analyst for CNN since 2016. She also hosts a show on Sirius XM.
The revelation has caused her name to trend on Twitter. One Jeopardy fan wrote, “WAIT… Alex Trebek actually wanted a BLACK WOMAN to take his place on @Jeopardy instead the show let a sexist white man appoint HIMSELF?!”
The Jeopardy host search started out as an exciting journey for fans to help find someone who could step in Trebek’s legendary shoes, but it quickly become a PR nightmare for Sony Pictures Television.
On Wednesday, Richards issued yet another apology, this time related to comments he made about women, Jewish people, people with mental disabilities and others on a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show.
“Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast,” Richards said, according to Entertainment Weekly, “and I am deeply sorry.”
“The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around,” he said. “Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”
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