Alex Trebek, 79, made a rare guest appearance –calling from his home office in Los Angeles — on Paula Poundstone’s podcast to offer the comedian a bit of career advice. While the conversation steered clear of Trebek’s health, as he fights stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the Jeopardy hosted sounded upbeat as he offered Poundstone pointers on launching a game show — on Zoom — from her living room while under quarantine.
“Hey guys! Thank you for helping break me out of my confinement,” Trebek began, sounding strong, as he described his 10-hour workdays on the show.
Read More— NobodyListensPaulaPoundstone (@PoundstoneInst) May 15, 2020
On March 4, Trebek announced that he’d beaten the odds by surviving a full year since his diagnosis. A week later, the show suspended live studio audiences in a move to protect Trebek from exposure to the virus. Shortly thereafter, tapings ended altogether, as California initiated quarantine orders. Trebek had credited his work — and the support of his fans with helping him push through cancer treatment, even on dark days.
On shooting days, he arrives at the studio “at 6 o’ clock in the morning to go through the mail,” he explained. “At 7:30, our head writer delivers the 5 games that we are going to be shooting.” He spends 90 minutes going through clues: “I make diacritical marks,” (for pronunciation). By 9 o’clock Trebek meets with producers and writers, heads to the studio by 10 and “by 11 o’clock we are ready to go.
We tape 3 shows in a row with one audience,” he said, before a break. “And then we tape the last two shows with another audience.” This two-day per week schedule, Trebek explains, captures ten shows — two weeks of programming.
“The trick,” Trebek said, when Poundstone asked for pointers: “is to always be on the side of the players” The best contestants? “Teachers, lawyers, and students,” he said, “They’re used to thinking on their feet — and that helps you a lot … someone who can deal with the pressure of the moment.” Does she need a sidekick, Poundstone wanted to know? “No, you do not,”
Trebek assured her. With Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner among Jeopardy’s famous fans, Trebek added that a highlight was “meeting Frank Sinatra” who confided he was a fan, as well. ‘He was my musical hero and my show-biz hero, and to find out that he watched on a regular basis was extremely pleasing to me,” Trebek said.
“You Don’t Replace Alex Trebek”
For now, fans of the beloved “Jeopardy” host are savoring taped versions of the show while awaiting his forthcoming memoir, “The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life,” to be published July 21. Trebek is under contract to host until 2022.
Still, the pandemic and Trebek’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer has forced speculation about who might assume the host role, if Trebek were unable to continue in the job.
you don’t replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. Jeopardy ends.
— Redd (@ReddtheWonder) May 14, 2020
As one fan put it on Twitter, “You don’t replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. Jeopardy ends.”
— Page Six (@PageSix) May 13, 2020
“Big Shoes To Fill”
While many agree, speculation swirled recently when Howard Stern prodded ABC anchor, George Stephanopoulos, during an interview on his Sirius XM show. “You’ve got the intellectual capacity. It’s a show that wouldn’t damage your reputation,” Stern noted. “There is a certain gravitas. It’s for brighter people. It would make you look good.”
The ABC host demurred but admitted he and wife, Ali Wentworth, watch “Jeopardy” with their two daughters. “I think it would be a lot of fun, but I like what I’m doing too,” he responded. “I am not going It’s a great show … It’s very flattering. Big shoes to fill.”
Trebek: “I Think It Should Be A Woman”
Trebek himself has speculated on his own successor, in a conversation with fellow-Canadian Michael McKean at New York’s 92nd St.Y. Trebek likes the idea of a woman. Top on his list? Betty White, 98.
Finally, Poundstone asked, what other game show would Trebek like to have hosted? “If I’d had my ‘druthers, I would have loved to host Hollywood Squares. The host gets to sit! You ask a celebrity a question and the response would almost always make you laugh. Who could not like that?”