There’s no dispute that Alex Trebek is a national treasure, but in a recent interview with Vulture, the 78-year-old said some controversial, questionable and downright weird things about various topics. Topics he wasn’t even asked about, in fact. Like the Me Too Movement. He got there all on his own and his take on it is pretty cringy.
The interview started innocently enough with Trebek telling writer David Marchese that he likes to surprise people who think he spends all his time studying Jeopardy! answers by talking about his handyman skills. When Marchese said “At least it’s a relatively benign surprise,” Trebek launched into a commentary on Me Too and the not-so-benign surprises coming out in the light of it.
“You know, when the #MeToo movement started, I had discussions with the staff during production meetings. I said, ‘My gosh, this has got to be a scary time for men,'” Trebek said. “I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a position of power where I might be able to lord it over somebody sexually. I said, ‘But there are guys out there — young guys are stupid in their teens.’ There’s nothing stupider than a teenage boy. They’re operating on testosterone.”
Marchese pushed back a little, pointing out that being young is not “an acceptable excuse” and that “young men are not the only ones who are a problem.” Trebek accepted that and then briefly discussed a scene in the Michael Douglas film Disclosure where two characters compare sex and power, suggesting that it’s reflective of this Me Too moment.
After that, the two acknowledged the conversation had taken a turn and got back on track. Later in the interview, however, Trebek steered the discussion back to Me Too. When answering a question about his eventual replacement no less.
“All you need is a competent host to help keep things moving. But we’re in the #MeToo movement now, it’s the year of the woman, so I suspect that the producers might give serious consideration to having a woman host,” he said. “She’ll obviously be younger; she’ll have to be personable, bright, have a sense of humor. My recommendation is Betty White.”
That was more like classic Trebek, but then he hit Me Too one more time by mentioning Kevin Spacey used to be his dream Jeopardy! contestant.
“People used to ask me, ‘Who would your dream Jeopardy! contestant be?’ I used to say Kevin Spacey. He’s bright, and there would be so many funny moments because of all his great impressions. But now you can’t say that,” he said.
Trebek also talked political leaders, in particular, Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump. He said he’s never met the latter but if he were to appear on Jeopardy!, “he might not agree that any of the correct responses are correct.” He also told a weird story about Trudeau and a buzzer he may or may not have on his person at all times.
“I’ve met Trudeau. I spent almost an hour with him in Ottawa,” Trebek said. “I’m keenly aware of little nuances, and I noticed at one point, after about 45 minutes, that Justin did something like this [scratches under his shirt], and about ten seconds later, there was a knock on the door and one of his assistants came in and said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you have a meeting.'”
He elaborated by saying he thinks the PM has a secret button he presses to alert his staff to get him out of situations.
“He has a buzzer under his shirt that he can use to signal his assistants when it’s time to come and get him,” he said before adding that Trudeau seemed more than willing to meet again.
“Trudeau did say to me, ‘Count me in if you ever do a celebrity tournament featuring world political leaders.’ I said, ‘I can’t think of anybody who would want to take you on,'” Trebek shared.
It looks like Trebek might have been wrong about the “little nuance” he noticed about Trueau. The PM’s Principal Secretary, Gerald Butts, tweeted that while a button might not be a bad idea, Trudeau doesn’t have one currently. He added that Alex Trebek is a national treasure.
Not true, but not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.
Also, Alex Trebek is a national treasure. 🇨🇦 https://t.co/PFanLRtwJ3
— Gerald Butts 🇨🇦 (@gmbutts) November 13, 2018
If anything, this conversation with Trebek has left us all a little confused about the man. He spoke pretty eloquently about politics (calling himself “a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. I want to help people, but I’m not necessarily eager to pay for it”) and other topics, but admitted he had a bit of an Alzheimer’s scare followed by some Alzheimer’s relief.
“I love doing crossword puzzles, and recently I’d be looking at a clue, it’d be 23 across, and I’d be trying to fit the answer into 26 across. I was always off. Because of that I went to be tested for early Alzheimer’s,” he shared. “The first time they tested me they said, ‘It doesn’t look good.’ Then we did more testing and they said, ‘You’re okay. No need to worry.'”
He added that he’s had a pretty good run thus far, but he’ll know when it’s time to retire.
“It’s natural. I’m 78. It’s not like this happened at 50. When it’s clear that it’s time for me to go, I’ll go.”