‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek’s Days as Show’s Producer Helped Create ‘Celebrity’ Version of Show

by Thad Mitchell

During his extensive run as host of the ever-popular game show Jeopardy! Alex Trebek was a true titan of the entertainment industry.

For 37 years, Trebek oversaw the game of Jeopardy! from behind his host lectern. With intellect, skill and charm in spades, Trebek was a driving force behind making Jeopardy! one of the top-rated game shows of all time. While he saw thousands upon thousands of contestants come and go while he remained by his podium. He was a true legend in the eyes of contestants, fans and others. Despite his status as an all-time great, Trebek kept a humble and selfless personality that others respected deeply. He was big on helping others and during his time as a producer, came up with a way to benefit numerous charities with “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

In a 2019 interview with actor Michael McKean, Trebek shares the story of how “Celebrity Jeopardy!” raised millions of dollars for a plethora of charities. McKean, a Hollywood veteran, was once a contestant on Celebrity Jeopardy!

“I am so happy that Jeopardy! managed to, over the years, help so many charities,” he says.

Some that fans may not know is that Trebek was served as the show’s producer when he first came on board. The idea for a celebrity competition to benefit charity was born during this period.

“I produced the show for the first three years,” he says. “Some of you know that but of you probably do not. We came up with the idea to have celebrities pay for their charities. Since that started — we have given away a little over $9 million to different charities to help support their good efforts. Jeopardy! is very proud of that.”

Trebek’s response to McKean’s question drew a sizeable round of applause from the live audience.

The former Jeopardy! host also gave McKean props for his appearance on the show and willingness to play the game to benefit charity. He says McKean and Andy Richter are the two smartest celebrities to appear on the special Jeopardy! edition. Mckean won $1 million dollars for his charity of choice, winning the 2010 edition of “Celebrity Jeopardy!.”

Trebek passed away in November of last year after battling pancreatic cancer for some time. He was 80-years-old at the time of his death and recorded his final Jeopardy! episodes just days before his passing.

In his place, Jeopardy! producers are utilizing celebrities as guest hosts until a permanent replacement can be found.