‘Jeopardy!’ Executive Producer Talks About What to Expect from Alex Trebek’s Final Episode
When Alex Trebek walked into the studio on October 29th, he had no idea that it would be the very last time he would host “Jeopardy.” Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, told Deadline, “He was planning on hosting the show the next week, that was his focus. And then when he wasn’t feeling well, he told me, ‘I am not going to be able to come this coming Monday-Tuesday but let’s look at the following Monday and Tuesday’; those were the days we shot. That was as late as Thursday of the week he passed away. He passed away Sunday morning.”
Since Trebek has no idea that the last episode he filmed in October would be the very last episode, he did not do anything special or different than usual. According to Richards, it is a “normal” episode of “Jeopardy.” At the end of the episode, Trebek says, “See you next time” just like he always did because he completely believed there would be a next time.
Unlike the show that aired this past Monday (January 4, 2021), Trebek does use his opening statement to say anything personal or especially meaningful to the audience on this final episode. On Monday’s show, he talked about the importance of kindness and giving. Richards said it was spontaneous. “That was just something he decided to do in that moment.”
When Trebek’s final episode airs tonight (January 8, 2021), it will be followed by a special tribute to Trebek that the show’s producers have put together.
Starting next week, new guest hosts will take turns replacing Trebek. Ken Jennings is the first guest host. According to Richards, no decisions have been made yet about a permanent replacement for Trebek, and the producers are taking their time finding the right person for the job. Some of the guest hosts will actually be auditioning for the job, but some of them will be filling in simply because they love Trebek and “Jeopardy.”
Richards explained, “We all are still mourning the loss — certainly I am — of Alex, and I think just turning around and naming someone would be irresponsible and not thoughtful, which is antithesis of ‘Jeopardy!'”