Answer: Another middle-aged white guy.
Question: Who will replace Jeopardy host Alex Trebek?
Today co-host Matt Lauer, NBC anchor Brian Williams, CNN poster boy Anderson Cooper and NBC jock Dan Patrick are all in the mix to succeed Trebek if he retires at the end of his contract, in 2016, the New York Post reported last week.
Trebek may hang it up before then. Last summer, he suffered his second heart attack. At 72, he’s been emcee of Jeopardy for almost three decades. Because the show is a monster hit in syndication, producer Sony TV is smart to start looking now.
A case could be made for any of the WMQ (White Male Quartet) to replace Trebek. Though he doesn’t like to be reminded, Cooper hosted ABC’s The Mole in 2001-’02. Lauer, given his plummeting popularity, might be looking for work soon. Patrick and Williams are legitimately funny guys.
Still, they are all long shots. Lauer might be locked into a deal somewhere else by ’16. Cooper learned his lesson from The Mole. Williams craves the gravitas of the anchor chair, and Patrick is unknown outside of sports.
Another small detail: Jeopardy is taped in California. The boys are based in New York. Production would be a scheduling nightmare.
Therefore, as a public service to Jeopardy fans everywhere, here are my nominees for the job:
Keith Olbermann. The Rambo of cable, Olbermann doesn’t burn bridges, he napalms villages. So what? The dude is bright, literate and unafraid. Buzz is that he’s returning to ESPN, but he’ll be fired long before ’16.
Herman Cain. The Tea Party activist from Georgia couldn’t cut it as a presidential nominee with the GOP last year, but anybody who can riff with Colbert gets my vote as a worthy game-show host. Bring it, Pizza Man.
Nate Silver. Admittedly, a bold choice. The brainiac political blogger has an astonishing record of accuracy, as evidenced by his rock star status from the election. He’s ready to go Hollywood. Biggest plus: He’ll know the answers without reading them on his card.
Rachel Maddow. The female Nate Silver, but more butch. The current darling of MSNBC, Maddow is riding a wave of unconditional left-wing love. As a California native and Stanford grad, however, she might be homesick by ’16. Here comes the sun.
Joe Biden. Assuming he doesn’t compete for the top of the ticket in ‘16, Biden is a gifted emcee. When the mic is hot, count on him to blurt out whatever’s bouncing around his mind at the moment. Open mouth, insert foot. Great TV.
Tina Fey and Amy Pohler. They’ve killed in sitcoms, movies, late night and, most recently, as Golden Globes co-hosts. Together, they’d make every episode of Jeopardy like an extended bit from Saturday Night Live—when it used to be funny. A Dream Team.
Ben Stein. A staunch Republican with a wicked wit, Stein was both host and contestant on Win Ben Stein’s Money, a Jeopardy-like game show that ran from ’97 to ’03 on Comedy Central. (His co-host the first three seasons was Jimmy Kimmel.) Book ‘em, Dano.
Sarah Palin. Why not Sarah Palin? Clever and sassy, this baked Alaskan is never at a loss for words, God bless her. Syntax be damned! Moreover, she won’t get tangled up in tiresome facts—leave that for the contestants. The perfect hostess.