The thought of anyone besides Alex Trebek hosting Jeopardy is virtually incomprehensible. Maybe Will Ferrell could do it but he’d have to be playing Trebek, like he did on Saturday Night Live. Trebek has stood behind the quiz show’s podium for 31 years, and he just signed a contract extension to host Jeopardy through the 2017-18 season.

However, Trebek will turn 75 in July. If he finishes out his contract, he’ll be 78 years old and probably ready to move on. That has Jeopardy producers thinking about the future and an eventual successor to Trebek as host.

According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, executives at Sony Pictures Television have a shortlist of candidates that could possibly replace Trebek in the future. These are names that higher-ups at Sony have been thinking about or personalities that have pitched themselves for consideration if and when Trebek decides that his hosting days are over.

Executives have a mental, if not official, short list of potential successors. The list includes sports radio and television host Dan Patrick; CNN anchor Anderson Cooper; NBC’s “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer; and NBC Sports anchor Josh Elliott.

Patrick, of course, already hosts Sports Jeopardy on Crackle, so taking over for Trebek would likely be a natural transition. Cooper has been a celebrity contestant on Jeopardy several times, and also recently showed his suitability for the job by hosting a President’s Day quiz show involving CNN anchors.

Elliott is younger than the other names on Sony’s shortlist (though only four years younger than Cooper). He signed a multi-year contract with NBC Sports, but as a lesser known commodity on TV (a year removed from his role as news anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America), Elliott may be viewed as someone who could be more closely identified with the show and hold the role for years. Maybe not for 30-plus years like Trebek, but a long run seems possible for him.

There could be other candidates that haven’t been mentioned. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trebek suggested past contestants like Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive Jeopardy games in 2004. His blog and Twitter account demonstrate a fun personality that could serve him well as host.

By the way, how long before Brian Williams pitches himself as a Trebek replacement?

[CNN Money]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.