'I MISS ALEX': Jeopardy! guest host Ken Jennings pays tribute to Alex Trebek
The first new Jeopardy! episode to air since Alex Trebek’s death last November aired Monday with guest host Ken Jennings choking back tears as be paid tribute to the longtime television personality.
“Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years — and it was even better up close,” Jennings said. “We were dazzled by his intelligence, his charm, his grace … there’s no other word for it.”
Trebek was one of a kind, the Jeopardy!GOAT continued, but the show would continue as he introduced Monday night’s contestants, returning winner Jim Gilligan, business operations associate Tanay Kothari and lawyer Julia Shear Kushner.
“Let’s be totally clear: No one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek, but we can honour him by playing the game he loved,” Jennings said. “Like all Jeopardy! fans, I miss Alex. Very much. And I thank him for everything he did for all of us.”
Jennings, who holds the Jeopardy! record for longest winning streak on the show and was crowned the program’s Greatest of All Time last year, said in a promo earlier in the day that he knew the audience would rather be seeing Trebek in his place.
“Honestly, I’m with the audience,” he said. “I don’t want me out here. I want to see Alex out here. I know exactly how they feel when they see anybody else behind this lectern.”
Reaction online was largely supportive, with one person praising his “touching opening statement,” while actor Justin Long tweeted, “I thought @KenJennings did such an admirable job stepping into those hallowed shoes tonight.”
Jennings will be the first in a series of guest hosts, with former Today show personality Katie Couric also lined up to sub in. Executive producer Mike Richards said in an interview with Deadline last week that a permanent new host won’t be named before spring.