Ken Jennings remembers Alex Trebek in emotional clip prior to his first show guest hosting Jeopardy! … following Trebek’s death in November from pancreatic cancer
Ken Jennings paid memorial to the late Alex Trebek as he guest hosted Jeopardy! for the first time Monday.
The Edmonds, Washington native, 46, appeared in a clip where he spoke of his awe and reverence for the late host of the quiz show, as Trebek’s stint at the helm of the popular TV series spanned 37 years and more than 8,000 episodes.
‘Honestly, I’m with the audience. I don’t want me out here. I want to see Alex out here,’ Jennings said in the clip. ‘I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern.
The latest: Ken Jennings, 46, paid memorial to the late Alex Trebek as he guest hosted Jeopardy! for the first time Monday
‘But there are tens of millions of people who love this show; we love this show, Alex loved the show. I’m just happy to fill in and help out.’
The champion game show contestant is the first to guest host the series in the wake of Trebek’s November 8 death at 80 from pancreatic cancer, as he will be broadcasting a series of shows aired in January.
‘It’s unimaginable, like I can’t even believe today that I’m filling in,’ he said. ‘It goes beyond nerves, it was a very nerve-racking and intense experience to be behind this lectern.’
Jennings, who won 74 games in a row to capture the show’s record for longest winning streak, said that after hosting, he has more appreciation for the veteran TV personality’s mastery of his craft.
Big shoes to fill: The champion game show contestant is the first to guest host the series in the wake of Trebek’s November 8 death at 80 from pancreatic cancer
Empathetic: Jennings said as a former contestant, he understands the ‘intense scenario’ contestants find themselves in on the TV series
Sure bet: Jennings won 74 games in a row to capture the show’s record for longest winning streak
‘The main thing I learned is what an impressive perfect job Alex Trebek did behind this lectern for 36, 37 years,’ he said. ‘And I thought I knew from over there – I thought I had studied the man and I understood just what a remarkable job he was doing, keeping the game going, mastering his sense that he understood all the clues because he did, explaining it to the audience.
‘It’s a very demanding job, and he was just the best,’ said Jennings, who beat James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter on JEOPARDY! The Greatest of All Time a year ago, winning $1 million.
Jennings said as a former contestant, he understands the ‘intense scenario’ contestants find themselves in on the TV series.
Fondly remembered: The Jeopardy! host died November 8 after battle with pancreatic cancer
Moving forward: Guests hosts will be at the Jeopardy! helm begin with Jennings
‘I hope they feel that I have a sense of solidarity with them you know, that I’m rooting for them, that I how hard it is and how it feels, that when I’m impressed that’s genuine because I know what they’re going through – Alex was always on the contestant’s side, as well.’
Jennings started taping his episodes November 30, 2020, as the beloved Canadian host had died November 8, less than two weeks he pre-taped his last series of episodes in late October.
Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards, speaking with the Today show earlier this month, said Trebek ‘was in enormous pain’ amid the tapings, but the consummate professional – ‘an absolute warrior’ – soldiered on.
As for his replacement, Richards said Trebek – who began hosting the show in 1984 – ‘mentioned a couple of names but he wanted to stay out of that’ on the whole, as ‘No one is going to replace him, and he knew that.’