AceShowbiz - 'Jeopardy!' boss has expressed adoration at Alex Trebek's dedication to the show during his battle with pancreatic cancer. Nearly two months after the TV game show host passed away, executive producer Mike Richards described his late colleague as an "absolute warrior" for filming his final episodes amid his illness.
"He was an absolute warrior and what he was able to do by getting himself back to the set to tape those final episodes," Mike said of Alex during his virtual appearance on "Today" show on Monday, January 4. "We didn't know it was going to be his final episodes and neither did he. But it was herculean. He was in enormous pain."
Mike revealed to co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb that Alex made a return to the set just around one week before he died. "He was, you know, 10 days away from passing away and you will not sense any of that in these episodes. He is strong. He sounds great. He's funny and he's amazing," he gushed.
"I think a normal person would have said I'm not going to show up a year and a half before those final episodes," he claimed. "I mean, he was getting chemotherapy once a week. So, I think there was a level of professionalism. I think he really understood the importance of the show and what it meant to people, and to make what I have always said, he made being smart cool."
Mike also mentioned that Alex insisted on shooting what would now be his last episodes on the show. "The week before we taped those episodes, he was in the hospital. This man was unbelievable. He calls me and he said, 'Mike, I'm going to be fine. I'll be in to tape. I was able to eat Jello today,' " he explained.
"I went, 'Alex, that's great, but that doesn't mean you're going to be ready to host five episodes of a game show,' which is an enormous amount of effort," he continued recalling. "And he said, 'Do not cancel. I will be there.' "
Mike additionally divulged that Alex shared some powerful messages in one of his last episodes. "He comes out and gives this absolutely amazing speech about the tough times that we're in and the importance of us as a country, as a community, humanity, coming together and being there for each other," he said.
"Usually in his monologue, he would come out, give a statement and then go to the categories," he went on. "There's not very many people in the studio because of COVID and we all burst into applause. You don't see it on camera, but as he's going to the categories, he sees us start to applaud and he kinda looks at us [like] 'What are you guys doing?' and we were so moved that we had to applaud."