‘Jeopardy!’: Ken Jennings Says Alex Trebek ‘Could Not Wait To Get Back To Work’
Alex Trebek is just as happy as Jeopardy! fans that the legendary game show is back with new episodes. Jeopardy! Season 37 premiered on Sept. 14, 2020, with Trebek doing what he’s always done: quizzing contestants on their trivia knowledge.
‘Jeopardy!’ stopped taping new episodes in March 2020
Production on Jeopardy! came to a screeching halt in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The game show planned on an April 2020 season finale before going on their regular hiatus for the summer.
Instead, Jeopardy! aired new games that were taped prior to COVID-19. Reruns began when Jeopardy! ran out of original episodes in June 2020.
Ken Jennings says Alex Trebek wanted to return to ‘Jeopardy!’
2020 has presented new challenges for Jeopardy! and Trebek. The show’s had to adapt to a changing TV landscape. Meanwhile, Trebek’s continued pancreatic cancer treatment and released a memoir.
But, according to Ken Jennings, the winningest Jeopardy! contestant of all time who is now a consulting producer on the game show, all Trebek’s wanted to do is resume his hosting duties.
“Despite battling cancer and being 80 years old, he could not wait to get back to work,” Jennings told The Washington Post of Trebek. “Jeopardy! still tapes five shows in a day.”
“That’s a long and grueling day, … and Alex just thrives on it, from what I hear. He’s having good days and bad days, but he can still do the job and enjoy it,” Jennings added.
‘Jeopardy!’ returns with new safety measures
During the show’s summer break, the people behind Jeopardy! were challenged with ways of making taping possible — and first and foremost, safe, — for the cast, crew, and contestants. No one wanted that more than Trebek.
According to Jeopardy! executive producer, Mike Richards, the game show host spent the summer pushing for creative solutions.
“His frustration was, we should be in there taping,” Richards told The Ringer. “We should be shooting. Even though it was during our hiatus, he wanted to get back in there and shoot more Jeopardy!s.”
“So I was definitely hearing him on my shoulder going, ‘Let’s go. Figure it out. We’re Jeopardy! We’re smart enough to figure this out,’” Richards added.
The show did figure it out. Ahead of the Jeopardy! Season 37 premiere, the game show’s set was altered. Now there are partitions between contestants and a socially distanced judges’ table.
Other safety measures include contestants applying their own makeup, the absence of a studio audience, and a smaller crew.
Watch new episodes of Jeopardy! weeknights at 7:30 p.m. EST on NBC.