Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is thinking about his departure from the game show. In a preview for the Thursday ABC special What is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show, the 79-year-old, who is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, revealed that he has already rehearsed his final goodbye.
"It'll be a significant moment for me," he acknowledged. "But I've kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ''Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That's all I want.' And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, 'Don't ask me who's going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I'm sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.'"
Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy! for 35 years, taking over from host Art Fleming in 1984. In November of 2018, he signed on to host through 2022, though just several months later, in March of 2019, he announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Not shying away from keeping his fans updated on his battle, Trebek revealed in an interview with Canada's CTV that his cancer treatments have begun to affect his hosting abilities.
"I'm sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they're forgiving," he told the outlet, noting that the chemo has caused sores in his mouth that can make it difficult for him to enunciate his words. "But there will come a point when they (fans and producers) will no longer be able to say, 'It's ok…' I will keep doing it as long as my skills do not diminish, and they have started to diminish."
For now, however, Trebek will continue to take the stage of the long-running game show as he continues to focus on his battle with cancer. Speaking on the ABC special, the game show host said that he "may try a new protocol...a different chemo or something in the trial stage that is not chemotherapy. I don't mind experimenting. I've got nothing to lose, so let's go for it."
What is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show will air on ABC on Thursday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. ET.