Alex Trebek once tossed out these names as ‘Jeopardy!’ host; EP talks why icon didn’t want to pick replacement

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Over the years during interviews, Alex Trebek tossed out names — albeit some jokingly — about who could potentially host "Jeopardy!"

However, according to the show's executive producer, Mike Richards, the late television icon never directly discussed his replacement. Per Richards, those conversations will eventually happen, but for now, like many, the "Jeopardy!" team is mourning the beloved host. 

"He never mentioned names to us," Richards told Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier on Monday. "He really wanted to be the host of the show, while he was the host of the show. So we didn't say, 'Hey, what about this person? What about that person?' It was his show until he told us he was going to retire and, amazingly, he never did. I think that's a blessing."

According to Richards, Trebek — who died on Nov. 8 after a lengthy battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer — did, however, "talk about what it would take to be a good Jeopardy! host."

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"Typical Alex. He was self-deprecating [and] said, 'It's not that hard,'" Richards shared. "Let me tell you that it is maybe the hardest show on TV to host; 61 clues in 22 minutes, accents, pronunciations, scoring, calling on people, ruling on the answers. He talked a lot about how it needs to be someone that the audience will respect, that's believable in the role [and] has credibility… He was so smart that you bought it, because you knew he knew the answer, too."

In 2019, The New York Post reported that Trebek was asked who he felt should replace him as the host of the game show after him.

“It’s probably going to be a woman, somebody younger, somebody bright, somebody personable, somebody with a great sense of humor,” he said at the 92nd Street Y, joking, “So I nominated Betty White.”

In 2019, Alex Trebek jokingly ‘nominated’ actress Betty White as a ‘Jeopardy!’ replacement. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Joking aside, he also reportedly seriously suggested TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, CNN’s Laura Coates and Los Angeles Kings announcer Alex Faust — he mentioned the latter two in a 2018 interview with TMZ as worthwhile successors to fill his massive shoes as “Jeopardy!” host. 

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“They should consider him,” Trebek told TMZ at the time of Faust when asked about retirement, adding that he did mention the now 31-year-old sportscaster's name to one of the show's producers. Faust has been the professional hockey team's play-by-play announcer since 2017. 

Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer, Alex Faust, was suggested by Trebek twice. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

He then mentioned Coates, 40. Coates is also the host of Sirius XM's "The Laura Coates Show" and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law, according to her bio.

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As for Mankiewicz, 53, he has been the Turner Classic Movies' host since 2003. 

"There are so many talented people out there that could do the job," Trebek said in 2019 at New York's 92nd Street Y, according to USA Today. 

Laura Coates, host of Sirius XM’s ‘The Laura Coates Show,’ was also mentioned twice by Trebek. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

But, per Richards, the people behind "Jeopardy!" has "not actively pursued people" for the gig at this time. 

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"We still had our guy and and now we don't," Richards told Entertainment Tonight on Monday. "We will eventually, in a couple weeks, start having those conversations, because we owe it to Alex to keep the show going. That's the only thing that will propel us, to be honest. That's when we'll start to really talk to people and see who can do this. It's going to take someone with an amazing skill set."

Ben Mankiewicz, who has been Turner Classic Movies’ host since 2003, has also been previously named by Trebek. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) 

One thing is for certain: "Jeopardy!" will definitely continue as Trebek asked Richards and others to "promise" that the show will live on even without him. 

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"That is the one thing he made us promise, that this great show was not done," Richards said. "He did not want to be bigger than the show. [He] fought that his whole time. He said, 'It's the show. It's the clues. It's the contestants.' Obviously, we all feel that he was an incredibly huge part of that, but that was his take."

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