Speed Reads

'warrior'

Jeopardy! producer says Trebek was hospitalized a week before final episodes but insisted on not canceling them

The executive producer of Jeopardy! is previewing a "very special" week as the late Alex Trebek's final episodes are set to air.

Mike Richards, the game show's executive producer, joined NBC's Today on Monday to discuss taping the last five episodes that Trebek filmed prior to his death from pancreatic cancer in November, which will air from Monday through Friday.

"He was an absolute warrior," Richards told Today. "And what he was able to do by getting himself back to the set to tape those final episodes ... it was Herculean. He was in enormous pain, he was 10 days away from passing away, and you will not sense any of that in these episodes."

Richards explained that Trebek, who "understood the importance of the show," was in the hospital the week before these episodes were filmed, but he was still adamant about not canceling them.

"He calls me and he says, 'Mike, I'm going to be fine. I'll be in to tape. I was able to eat jello today,'" Richards recalled. "And I went, 'Alex, that's great, but that doesn't mean you're going to be ready to host five episodes of a game show, which is an enormous amount of effort.' And he said, 'Do not cancel. I will be there.'"

On the show set to air on Monday, Richards said Trebek will give "a talk about the importance of togetherness" that moved producers so much that they "burst into applause."

Trebek's final episode of Jeopardy! will air Friday and include a tribute to the late host, Sony Pictures Television previously announced. No permanent replacement for Trebek has been named, but for now, the show will continue with a "series of interim guest hosts from within the Jeopardy! family," the first being champion Ken Jennings. Brendan Morrow