The legendary “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek tragically passed away last month at the age of 80 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Now, as his final episodes are about to air, the game show’s executive producer Mike Richards is speaking out to talk about Trebek’s last days of filming the show. He also discussed who his possible replacement will be.
Richards told Entertainment Weekly that Trebek was a “warrior” who never let cancer get in the way of doing the job that he loved. He explained that the two of them formed a close bond as they tried to get the show back in the studio amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really interesting for my relationship to [go from] very distant and barely knew him, to very close with him at the end and talking to him quite often,” Richards said. “He wanted to know how the staff was doing, how the crew was doing, make sure everybody was hanging in there. One of our final conversations was him very concerned about my kids, and kids in general in this country that aren’t able to go to school. I remember him saying, ‘This is a challenge for all humanity.’ He was obviously very ill at that point, but that was where his concern was.”
He added that Trebek was adamant on being in the studio to film, even when his illness made that difficult.
“In the last few weeks, he had an intestinal surgery, and he was out for a little bit,” Richards said. “I talked to him seven days before what would end up being his final taping session, and I said, ‘Alex, you’re barely up and around. We have a long way to go before you’re gonna be back in the studio taping.’ He got very firm, which I loved, and he goes, ‘I’ll be there. Don’t you cancel anything.’ And sure as heck, he was. He was a warrior.”
Though the crew knew how much Trebek was fighting in his final days of filming, Richards promised that viewers will not be able to tell anything was wrong with him. As for Trebek’s replacement, Richards said that while he and the host had talks about the kind of person it should be, the 80 year-old never actually gave him a name or weighed in on anyone specifically.
“He wanted to be very careful to not weigh in on that. Not that he didn’t care, because he cared at a very high level, [but] he knew how influential any suggestion he made would be, and he wanted us to come to it the way we wanted to, not because of what he wanted,” Richards concluded. “So he and I spent a lot of time talking about what attributes a host should have, what we should look for, those types of things. He always said that the stars of Jeopardy! were the contestants and the game, not the host.”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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