As Alex Trebek's final Jeopardy! episodes continue to air this week, former champion Ken Jennings has revealed the advice that the iconic host gave him in event he would be an interim host himself after Trebek's death. During a Tuesday interview with Good Morning America, Jennings spoke about serving as the show's temporary host in upcoming episodes, and explained that he is aware how big of a moment it is. "You can't fill shoes like Alex Trebek's," he said. "He was just a legend."
Jennings later went on to recall that he had the opportunity to converse with Trebek just before his death. "I spoke to him on the phone, actually, the weekend he passed," he shared. "He was frail, but he was still very much Alex. I remember him just being very confident in me to be a guest host, if he ever needed that. We were hoping we'd have him with us for longer."
Jennings then shared the best advice he ever got from Trebek. "I was reminded of the thing he always emphasized about the show, which was: He's not the star of the show. The host is not the star of Jeopardy! He always made it about the players, and about the competition. It's just hard to imagine that in the TV landscape today, a star of his size saying, 'Hey, the game's not about you.' That was great advice."
Finally, regarding his interim hosting of the show, Jennings shared that he would much rather have Trebek back than see someone else delivering the clues. "I'm like everybody else, when I hear that music I don't want to see an interim host," he said. "In a perfect world, I want to see Alex Trebek. So it was a little bit nerve-wracking being asked to do that. It was an honor, but it's a stressful one."
In the wake of Trebek's death in November, the show's producers revealed that the show would in fact go on, as the late host wanted, and that there would likely be a series of guest hosts until a new permanent host is chosen. "Alex believed in the importance of Jeopardy! and always said that he wanted the show to go on after him," said Jeopardy! Executive Producer Mike Richards in a previous statement.
"We will honor Alex’s legacy by continuing to produce the game he loved with smart contestants and challenging clues," he continued. "By bringing in familiar guest hosts for the foreseeable future, our goal is to create a sense of community and continuity for our viewers." Fans can catch Trebek's final episodes as they air all this week, until Friday, Jan. 8.