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CNN anchor, author and SiriusXM radio host Laura Coates said that when she inquired about guest-hosting Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek’s passing, she was “told no.”
Coates’ name was floated online during the official search process for a new host after a resurfaced 2018 TMZ interview where Trebek identified her as a good possible successor. While appearing on The Tamron Hall Show on Monday, the news anchor said she did indeed inquire about being added to the roster of those considered for the role, but that she was denied.
“I asked for the opportunity when it came time when they were looking for people to possibly fill in. I certainly raised my hand and knocked on doors and found them closed,” she said. “I was told no, which is one of those moments when you have to remember to wear your own jersey.”
Added Coates, “You have to remember to continue to be your own champion in other respects, and sometimes the vision that you have for yourself — or those that surprise you, other people — don’t align with what happens, and that happened there.”
Still, Coates said she was honored that Trebek considered her as someone who could potentially assume the Jeopardy! mantle.
“I actually was as shocked as anyone else was when he first said it,” she explained. “I was thrilled when he said my name and I thought, ‘Oh, 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.'”
Coates went on to say she had a chance to talk with Trebek, something she’d also previously tweeted about, before his death at 80 from pancreatic cancer.
“I was honored by it, and I had a chance to thank him and also to reach out to him while he struggled with pancreatic cancer,” Coates told Hall. “It just angers me still that we continue to lose so many great people to it.”
The search for a new Jeopardy! host has continued following the controversy around former executive producer Mike Richards, who presided over the search and selection process, essentially choosing himself for the role. The decision sparked widespread criticism, which alongside previous discrimination lawsuits and offensive comments made by Richards on a podcast that resurfaced at the time, resulted in him stepping down from the hosting position after filming around a week’s worth of episodes. Ultimately, he parted ways with the show completely, exiting as EP on Aug. 31.
Actress Mayim Bialik and previous champion Ken Jennings, who were both in the running, were announced as the hosts of season 38’s remaining episodes with Sony stating there are no plans to select a permanent host before season 39.
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