The latest Jeopardy! guest host, Robin Roberts, got some advice from Alex Trebek himself before his passing. Roberts is one of the final four guest hosts at the Jeopardy! podium before the show settles on a permanent replacement for the late Trebek. She discussed her memories of Trebek and what she learned from him in an interview with USA Today.
Roberts compared her new experience as a host to her time as a contestant on Celebrity Jeopardy!, saying that it was much harder in Trebek's shoes. She said: "It was challenging to keep everything going, but I remember what Alex Trebek said: 'It's not about the host; it's about the contestant.' I knew that those people had been waiting all their lives to be there. So I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that they had an experience that they had dreamed of." Roberts echoed this advice in her introduction on her first episode, which aired on Monday night.
"Of course, I am honored to be here," she said, "guest-hosting Jeopardy! and paying tribute to the great Alex Trebek, who I was blessed to get to know well over the years. And, I have to say, his spirit is very much here, very present. I am also looking forward to raising a lot of money for charity. Let's do it! Alright, let's get into the game because, as Alex said, it's all about you! It's all about the contestants!"
Highlighting the contestants and the gameplay itself worked out well for Roberts, as it did for Trebek for many decades. Roberts also discussed her plan for the show in a behind-the-scenes interview on the Jeopardy! YouTube channel ahead of her first appearance. Jeopardy! producers asked Roberts what she wants to bring to the show during her tenure as guest host. Visibly emotional, Roberts said: "Just want to bring a little bit of Alex. Just a little bit. Can't be him — no one can be him — but just want to bring a little of the spirit that he brought each and every time he was here in this studio. That's all." Roberts described meeting Trebek at her job on Good Morning America, saying he was great at making other people feel "at ease" around him.
On the other hand, Roberts was more focused on the novelty of hosting a show she had grown up watching and loving. She said that it "was a great honor" to stand at the podium this week, adding: "My mother and father are cheering me on from their heavenly balcony!" As for why she took the job, she said: "Who wouldn't want to guest host Jeopardy!? It's on the bucket list... Couldn't say no, didn't want to say no." Although it is only getting started, Roberts said that the whole experience is already "something I will not forget — ever."
Roberts will host the show for one week, followed by LeVar Burton starting on July 26. He will host for just one week, followed by CNBC's David Faber, then Fox Sports' Joe Buck. At that point, a new permanent host will be chosen. Jeopardy! airs on weeknights at 7 p.m. ET; check your local listings for the correct channel.