Who should be in the next round of Jeopardy guest hosts?
Well, here we are again: After barely a week as the official new host of Jeopardy, Mike Richards has stepped down amid ongoing scandals, and the show is set to resume a rotating lineup of guest hosts for at least the beginning of its upcoming season.
The prospect of more guest hosts is not entirely enticing. The past eight months have shown that it's extraordinarily difficult to be a good Jeopardy host, especially a short-term one, and that it's perhaps even more difficult to predict who will make a good Jeopardy host. Some left-field choices like Aaron Rodgers (who apparently prepped for the gig like mad) proved unexpectedly great, while some seemingly surefire candidates, like fan favorite LeVar Burton, struggled. Then again, this is also an opportunity for the show's producers to course correct from some of their more baffling choices last season, and bring in guest hosts a bit more fitting for the role. (That said, there were plenty of good choices last season — we stan David Faber!)
Here are some of EW's picks for who we think would make good guest hosts — not necessarily people we think should host the show full time, but people who would be a good fit for Jeopardy and provide an entertaining, competent week or two behind that iconic lectern. If the guest-host experiment must go on, these are our humble choices to participate.
Longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek rarely weighed in publicly about who his successor should be (at least seriously; he often answered "Betty White" when asked this question), but during a 2018 interview, he suggested CNN legal analyst Laura Coates as a potential candidate, along with sportscaster Alex Faust. That interview has recirculated online in the wake of the Richards debacle, with fans questioning why neither Coates nor Faust were among the guest-host lineup. Coates, for one, has seemed to obliquely indicate her interest; why not give her a shot? Her CNN colleagues Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta both performed admirably, so there's a good chance Coates would as well. Who knows; there may be something about the chaotic atmosphere of CNN shows that prepares you for the hectic experience of hosting Jeopardy.
There aren't many who possess the combination of affability and gravitas that Trebek brought to Jeopardy, but Jimmy Smits is one of them. The former NYPD Blue star brings a warm, authoritative presence to all of his roles (remember his run on The West Wing?) and even interviews (just watch him in EW's Around the Table with the cast of In the Heights). An oft-cited aspect of what made Trebek so good at hosting Jeopardy was the sense that he actually knew the facts he was dispensing every night, like a knowledgable uncle sharing that knowledge with you. Smits gives off a similar energy, one that would play very well as host of Jeopardy.
There was one key demographic conspicuously lacking in Jeopardy's guest-hosting lineup: people with consistent game show-hosting experience. Brooke Burns has long since proven her bona fides, hosting Master Minds (featuring Jeopardy GOAT and former guest host Ken Jennings) and the original U.S. version of The Chase on Game Show Network. To both shows, she brought an affable screen presence, confident question reading (and pronunciation), and a skill for keeping complicated games moving along efficiently. She might not be the most recognizable Jeopardy guest host, but she'd certainly be an effective one.
If the Jeopardy producers are looking to bring another athlete in to host, LeBron James seems like a logical choice. He's got the charisma, confidence, and (albeit limited) acting experience required to be comfortable delivering scripted lines on camera, and has long been an advocate for promoting and increasing access to education, which makes him a solid fit for Jeopardy's brand. Plus, this would be one career milestone Michael Jordan never achieved.
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Remember what we said about left-field choices? Longtime musical parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic may seem, at first glance, completely wrong for the buttoned-up tone of Jeopardy, but the pairing only makes more sense the longer you think about it. Yankovic, like Trebek, is a sort of Mr. Rogers for a certain nerdy subset of pop culture, a widely beloved, good-natured figure who delivers wholesome yet clever entertainment. He's also, lest we forget, a legitimately smart guy: Yankovic graduated high school at just 16 years old, having both started kindergarten early and skipped second grade, and was valedictorian of his class. And though the persistent rumors that his song "I Lost on Jeopardy" inspired creator Merv Griffin to revive the show are untrue, the song still gives a fun sense of kismet to the idea of Yankovic hosting the show. If you're picking somebody white and nerdy for the gig, you could do a whole lot worse.
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