Longtime "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who despite stage 4 pancreatic cancer continued shooting episodes until the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered production, says he is anxious to return to work and that producers have planned safety measures to help counter the virus.
"We've redesigned our set to separate the contestants and myself a little bit more from them," Trebek, who turns 80 on Wednesday, said in an unaired portion of his "Good Morning America" interview Tuesday. "So we are taking all kinds of precautions" on the Southern California set of the syndicated game show.
While normally five episodes, a week's worth, are shot in a day, "We'll do three and take a short break, and then do the last two. And we'll see how that goes. And if it's too much for me, we can always cut back a little bit, maybe do four a day," he said.
In the televised interview with "GMA" correspondent T.J. Holmes, Trebek bemoaned "a cavalier attitude towards this pandemic on the part of our young people especially. We've lost over 130,000 people, and the young people just [say], 'Hey, if you don't want to catch it, don't go out.' Huh? What kind of attitude is that? There isn't enough caring out there, as far as I'm concerned."
Trebek said he could not explain how he has managed to host through the cancer pain. "I don't know what it is, but when it's time to go, it's time to go. Let's do it. Get out there, suck it up, make it happen. … It's something that I can't explain intellectually. At a gut level, without even thinking about it, it just happens. I suddenly wake up and I'm able to perform and handle the show. Because I like it. It's a good job."
He added, "It sure as hell would be nice to get back to work. I miss it. It's been part of my life, a very important part of my life, for 36 years."
"Jeopardy!" halted production in March and began reruns in mid-June after inventoried episodes ran out. On Monday, the show began airing curated vintage episodes, starting with Trebek's debut on Sept. 10, 1984, the premiere of the revived series following two previous versions in the 1960s and '70s. One contestant on that debut was copywriter Lois Feinstein, a former Plainview resident who now lives in Denver.