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The only thing that could have made the day better for Alex Trebek would have been to have his Saturday Night Live dopelganger deliver his acceptance speech.
Trebek, who has been hosting the syndicated trivia show Jeopardy! since 1984, pooh-poohed talk of impending retirement, saying that he had only mused about the topic. After all, his contract was just extended to 2014, and as he pointed out, the show only tapes two days a week.
He’s also still at the top of his game. On Monday, Trebek added to his impressive trophy case — which already houses 29 Emmys — a Peabody on Monday, his first time earning the prestigious electronic media honor. He was his normal demure self as he spoke to reporters, but lit up during a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter when asked about a seemingly unlikely subject.
THR: For the longest time, the SNL skits–
Trebek: Love them! Oh I loved them, but they don’t do them anymore because Will Ferrell is no longer a regular on the show, and he used to portray me. Even after I had shaved my mustache, he was portraying me with a mustache.
THR: Did you ever talk to him about it?
Trebek: Well I was on his last regular show, and I did a little cameo appearance, and yeah, I told him how much I enjoyed his work as me on the program, and he was quite taken that I had noticed.
THR: Do people come up to you and ask a lot about it?
Trebek: Oh yes. Every taping, somebody in the audience says ‘How do you feel about the Will Ferrell impression of you on SNL?’ And I say the same thing every time: I love it. I wish he was back on the show so he would do more.
THR: You’ve been doing this show for so long, have 29 Emmys, now a Peabody. Do you ever think of the legacy of the show?
Trebek: Very simply, I think the legacy is appreciation for the learning process. An appreciation for curiosity, wanting to know more. That’s very important. We keep hearing about the problems with our education system in the United States, how we do not measure up to kids in other lands. Well, we can overcome that very quickly in all subjects if the children are encouraged to use their imaginations and their sense of curiosity and probe into different areas in order to make themselves feel better, and also to help the country. The more we do, the more we help the people around us and our country.
THR: Whenever you do retire, what else are you looking forward to doing?
Trebek: Probably doing a little more charitable work, a lot of that in countries all over the world. And I’m now in a position to do even more, and that would be exciting for me.
THR: So you want to do more charity work; would you want to host any other show?
Trebek: No, I don’t want to host any other TV shows. I have said that if they brought back Hollywood Squares, I would love to host that, because I love asking a question and have someone give a funny response, to which I will laugh. I like that. That’s an easy job. I would treasure that job.
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