Jeopardy's Alex Trebek shoots down retirement rumours
Jeopardy host Alex Trebek poses for a photograph in Toronto on June 11, 2013. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:46PM EDT
TORONTO -- Alex Trebek says reports of his impending retirement are greatly exaggerated.
The veteran TV personality says he has no plans to step down and is looking forward to launching a 30th season as host of "Jeopardy!" this fall.
"The story got blown way out of whack," Trebek said Tuesday of multiple reports he was preparing to retire.
"That happened at around the same time that Matt Lauer was going through some problems with NBC regarding the 'Today Show' and the tabloids got hold of the two stories and co-mingled them and decided, 'Well, Matt Lauer should replace Alex Trebek and he's being considered.' I was told by my bosses that wasn't the case and then Anderson Cooper's name came up and then Ken Jennings' name came up and there were a lot of names coming up."
The 72-year-old was in Toronto on Tuesday to promote his quiz show's milestone anniversary season, debuting this fall on CHCH.
He shot down recent stories suggesting he's planning to retire after his contract expires in 2016, but also said he doesn't know what the future holds.
Trebek was cagey about whether he has an end date in mind, saying: "I may not last 'till 2016. But I'm enjoying myself and we'll see."
The dual Canadian-U.S. citizen joked that he may pursue a second career in Canadian city politics.
He took a veiled jab at the ongoing crack cocaine scandal surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has denied reports he was videotaped using the drug.
"I have been considering going into politics but where and in what venue and at what level? Federal politics? Provincial politics?" Trebek mused in a deadpan delivery.
"Maybe municipal politics, you know.... It might be kind of fun to come back to Toronto after having left 'Jeopardy!' and run for an office here. If there's one available. Wink wink."
Trebek's healthy sense of humour extends to the myriad of barbs directed his way over the years, from Eugene Levy's "SCTV" impersonations to Will Ferrell spoofs on "Saturday Night Live" to Conan O'Brien's recent "Jeopardy" mashups that make Trebek appear hilariously insane.
"He's done something very creative, very ingenious and very funny and I have yet to see them," Trebek says of O'Brien's late night gags.
"I've been hosting game shows and been in the broadcasting business for over half a century so I'm fair game.... I guess I'm kind of a stolid figure on television. I'm not wild and crazy so it's always easy to poke fun at people like me who appear to be more reserved, although I like to fool around and joke around a lot sometimes."
Trebek says he's also in good health despite being hospitalized for a mild heart attack in June 2012. He was also hospitalized for a heart attack in 2007.
The health scares have done nothing to change his daily routine.
"I still have the same dumb lifestyle. I start the day with a Snickers and a diet Pepsi or diet Coke. I don't usually have lunch and then I have a big dinner, drink wine and I don't exercise. And I feel pretty good. So, there's a lesson there."
Still, Trebek admits to feeling his age when it comes to working on the quiz show.
"It's challenging for me now," he admits of the 11-hour days, which shoot five episodes at a time.
"It's more challenging for me now than it was years ago because I have to work harder. As you get older, maintaining a high level of concentration becomes very difficult so you have to really focus and it's harder to focus."