For fans of the trivia show, Jeopardy! is sacred. And while the late Alex Trebek’s shoes are hard to fill behind the podium, the rotating guest hosts have done their best to carry on his legacy. Since Alex Trebek’s death in November, there have been several guest hosts filling in, and some have fared better than others with viewers. Champion Ken Jennings was the first to take over for six weeks, then Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards, followed by celeb hosts such as Katie Couric, Dr. Oz, Aaron Rodgers, and now, CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper. After Cooper, per the Jeopardy! press site, Savannah Guthrie and Mayim Bialik will also do two-week stints as host before a permanent one is announced.
Each celeb guest host is also raising money for charity during their time on the show, with Cooper raising money for Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, an organization helping people in Haiti get needed medical care. Cooper took over on April 19, 2021 and so far reactions have been mixed about whether he would be a good full-time host after his two-week trial period.
Cooper had mixed feelings about hosting as well
In a promo clip leading up to his stint as a guest host, Anderson Cooper noted that he has been a fan of the show since he was a teenager. He also noted that he has been on Jeopardy! before, in the contestant’s shoes during his four appearances on Celebrity Jeopardy, plus multiple times as a clue giver in pre-recorded videos. So he’s no stranger to the Jeopardy! universe, though he also admitted that he “was nervous.” about honoring Alex Trebek’s legacy and getting it right. “I’m just hoping not to mess it up,” he said, noting that he hopes he can make it “good” for the players who are getting to experience it all for the first time.
In the clip, he also talks about watching the show with his family growing up and noted that really aren’t many shows families can all gather around the TV for, knowing that it’s “intelligent, and educational, and fun.” During his first appearance, he also made it a family affair, posting a picture on Instagram of his baby son Wyatt watching him from home. “Wyatt has never seen me on tv before, and he likely won’t for a long while, but apparently he caught a bit of me on @Jeopardy!” Cooper captioned the pic. “It was a dream come true to be guest hosting, and to pay tribute to #AlexTrebek and raise money for @hashaiti.”
So how did he do?
Not everyone was a fan of Anderson Cooper's hosting
Fan reactions to Anderson Cooper hosting Jeopardy! were mixed on social media. One person wrote, “Anderson Cooper is already the best Jeopardy host, he was so much fun!” Another person thought he fit right into the gig, tweeting, “Anderson Cooper’s voice fits #jeopardy vibes.” Someone else agreed he was a natural, saying, “Wow Anderson Cooper is almost TOO good! Didn’t seem like he was a guest host at all.”
Others weren’t convinced, though. One person wrote, “Anderson Cooper was good but he was no Aaron Rodgers.” Others felt like Cooper, who hosts his own CNN show and is a correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes, in addition to being a dad, felt like he might be taking on too much. “Anderson Cooper is doing a nice job on jeopardy. But how many jobs does this guy need?!,” they wrote. All good points.
Many fans are still holding out for LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow fame to be the permanent host, given his interest in the gig. But Cooper has reportedly been on the shortlist for ages, according to a leaked email from the 2014 Sony hack, which implied that Cooper auditioned for the part back when Alex Trebek was reportedly thinking about retiring in the same year.
Anderson Cooper knows what it's like to lose
Even if Anderson Cooper doesn’t become the permanent host, he will surely always be invited back to the show in some capacity. As previously mentioned, he was on Celebrity Jeopardy! four times, and won twice. But the losses were tough to handle, as he said in an interview with Ellen Degeneres in February 2021. “I got so thrilled to win the first time, and it was all for charity. When I went on the second time, I was against Cheech Marin from Cheech & Chong,” Cooper recalled. “And I got really cocky because I was like, I mean, come on, Cheech Marin … He’s been smoking a lot. The synapses can’t be really sharp.” Alas, Marin was a formidable opponent. Cooper said that the famed stoner “destroyed” him. “He’s so fast on the buzzer and he’s so smart! He knows everything … You know what it’s like to walk into the newsroom at CNN after you’ve lost to Cheech Marin? It doesn’t go well,” Cooper added.
After Alex Trebek died in November 2020, the two rivals reminisced about the host together. Marin said, via CNN, that Trebek had a way of making “you feel good, even if you looked stupid sometimes.” Cooper agreed, adding that he wanted a rematch with the Cheech & Chong star one day.
Whether or not Cooper takes the full-time spot, Trebek would surely be pleased with everyone’s dedication to keeping the show going forward.
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