By Herald on November 13, 2020.
Sharon Lawson’s appearance on the popular TV game show “Jeopardy!” last spring has become even more special to her since the death Sunday of the show’s longtime host, Alex Trebek.
Even though Trebek’s long battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer was well known “and you know it’s just a matter of time,” said Lawson, the former “Jeopardy!” champion from Lethbridge was shocked by the news of Trebek’s death at age 80.
Lawson noted a Facebook page for former “Jeopardy!” contestants has been abuzz this week with reminiscences about the show’s well-loved host.
“There’s just been an outpouring of love and memories and anecdotes the last three days, all kinds of fun things that Alex did and people’s experiences with him. It’s a big loss for the ‘Jeopardy!’ world.”
Lawson’s own experiences with Trebek include his chat with her following her victory on the show, when he talked with her about their shared Canadian identity. She will also remember Trebek’s sense of humour, which would sometimes come out in his banter with contestants. Lawson won’t forget Trebek’s response after she gave an incorrect answer to one of the quiz questions and then noted, “I was sorta right.” Trebek replied, “Sorta don’t count.”
It was reportedly at Trebek’s insistence that he was always introduced as the host of “Jeopardy!,” not the star.
“That’s a very Canadian thing to do,” said Lawson. “It keeps the focus on the contestants and not on him and that’s what he wanted.”
This week, however, in Facebook discussions among “Jeopardy!” devotees, the talk has been “exclusively Alex-focused,” Lawson said.
Lawson agrees filling Trebek’s shoes as host will be difficult.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what direction the show goes,” she said.
Lawson suspects former “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings, who has been involved in the show this season giving video clues to some of the questions, might be in line to serve as at least an interim host. She thinks actor LeVar Burton, more recently the voice of “Reading Rainbow,” could be another possibility. She also suggests making some minor changes to the “Jeopardy!” set might help the show establish a new post-Alex identity.
As a fan of the show ever since it began its run with Trebek as host in 1984, Lawson hopes the show continues, but she admits it will be different without its iconic host. And she will always treasure her opportunity to be part of the show while Trebek was still there.
“I was so fortunate to get to go when I did,” she said, recalling that her taping came shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything — and might have wiped out her chance to meet the “Jeopardy!” host.