Is there a favorite moment that stands out during your time as host of Jeopardy!?
I think it’s difficult for me to single out one moment, but one that stands out very prominently occurred in our first Teen Tournament when I interviewed a young girl named Dana Venator, who played the bagpipes. She was from near Atlanta and she used to go outside her house and into the woods to practice because she didn’t want to disturb the neighbors. I thought that was so sweet. We did a retrospective many years later and she was grown up, working, and doing well. It brought back such wonderful memories for me. When you think about a 13 or 14-year-old girl playing the bagpipes, that’s kind of neat.
What does the Hall of Fame say about Jeopardy! as a show?
Well, I think it says you’re looking at a successful television program. One that’s been successful for 27 years in its current incarnation and of course it was on for 10 years on the NBC television network in the ’60s and early ’70s. It’s a quality program and there are a lot of tours that come through the Sony Studios. This was a way of making it extra special for them.
You had quite the exciting summer. How’s your foot coming along?
I’m feeling pretty good now. The surgery was six-and-a-half weeks ago. There was a lot of pain early on but the pain has gone away and I’m just trying to be cautious now. I had my first therapy session yesterday [Monday] in a swimming pool, which takes a lot of weight off. You’re buoyant in the pool and you can move and not feel as frightened as you were if you tried to walk normally. The therapy will last a couple of months and then I should be as good as new.
Have you thought about swapping roles and actually playing Jeopardy! instead of hosting?
No. That thought has never occurred to me and I will tell you why. Somebody else would have to host the program that day. That someone might be very good. If I were to appear as a contestant, that host might be very good and that would give our producers ideas. Our producers should not have new ideas, particularly of that kind, because that could be bad for me.