Savannah Guthrie said hosting Jeopardy! required “flexing a new set of skills” from her day job at the TODAY show. The Georgetown University lawyer has interviewed presidents and politicians. But she said hosting a game show as unique as Jeopardy! was “a different ballgame.”
Guthrie begins her two-week run as guest host tonight. Jeopardy! producers interviewed the mother of two about her feelings heading into her stint at the lectern.
“I was very nervous,” she said about hosting Jeopardy! “of course I was nervous. It’s a really hard job, and getting here didn’t make me any less nervous. The more I knew about what was required, the more nervous I was. I think being a journalist working in television every day — working in live television — I think it helps because I’m used to being on camera.
“So, I didn’t have those kinds of nerves, but this is a different ballgame. It’s so different than what we do on the TODAY show every morning. This was flexing a new set of skills and then being thrown right into the big leagues. So it was really challenging and really fun, but it was hard. It was really hard.”
Guthrie will host through June 25. Future guest hosts of Jeopardy! include George Stephanopoulos and LeVar Burton — both of who have lobbied for the full-time hosting job. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Robin Roberts, and several others will also have a turn to guest host.
You can see the upcoming schedule of guest hosts here.
Guthrie ‘Emulated’ Trebek’s Spirit at ‘Jeopardy!’
Savannah Guthrie said she had great respect for late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. And after meeting and working with his former colleagues, the stories of his humor, generosity, and integrity were all true. And that made filling in for him even more nerve-racking because she wanted to continue that level of quality.
“I really admire how much excellence he brought to it, even though he did it decade after decade after decade,” she said. “It seems to me that he never slacked off. It never got easy for him. He always brought his A-Game, and that’s the spirit that I was trying to emulate.”
Trebek died from pancreatic cancer late last year after hosting the show for 37 years.
Guthrie has never hosted a game show, so she prepared to host Jeopardy! the same way she does the TODAY show.
“I think what I tried to do was I tried to approach it like I approach my job, which is to be prepared. To study hard, to care a lot, to work hard, and I think that’s what Alex Trebek did every day,” she said.
But she unloaded some of her burdens by telling herself that she was only a fill-in. She did her best, and if the fans didn’t like her, they wouldn’t have to put up with her for very long.
“I was so nervous because I really just wanted to show how much respect I have for Jeopardy and Alex (Trebek)– who is a legend and an icon for a reason. He’s the maestro,” Guthrie explained. “And I know those Jeopardy fans are picky, but I have to say, I’m just the fill-in, so don’t worry!”