Does Alex Trebek Shave Against the Grain? Hear All About His 'Fact Checkers Unit' Fun
by Maggie Furlong, posted Sep 21st 2010 9:00AM
The name Alex Trebek is synonymous with a wealth of interesting trivia, but for a team like the one at 'FCU: Fact Checkers Unit,' he's so much more.
NBC's 'FCU' web series has had some pretty fun guest stars, including Donald Faison, Pauley Perrette and Luke Perry, but it was Bill Murray's role in the original short that launched the series that intrigued Trebek enough to say yes to his own cameo. Well, that and some good old fashioned sucking up.
The 'FCU' has met their match -- and truly their guru -- with 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek, who guest stars in the season finale today (watch it here, above, after the jump). I caught up with Trebek to talk facial hair controversies, being everyone's Uncle Alex, venturing into more comedic roles and which celeb he'd love to quiz on 'Jeopardy!'
So how did you get involved with 'Fact Checkers Unit'?
I have no idea! They called me one day and asked if I would consider doing it. They sent over a bit they had done with Bill Murray, and I think the hooked they used was, "Well, you know, these guys are fact checkers and you're their guru. They have a picture of you in their office." And I figured, what a hoot!
That'll get you every time, huh? Someone calls you their guru, and you kind of have to say yes.
Yep! Somebody sucks up to me, that's it. [Laughs] I'm theirs.
What Alex Trebek fact are they checking in the episode?
Whether I shave against the grain, I think ... some weird thing like that.
Well, you'll have to watch the episode! I'm still getting questions from people who come to our studio to watch tapings of 'Jeopardy!' about why I shaved my mustache, and that was nine years ago.
It was a big deal -- that's some famous facial hair! You really are one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
I wouldn't go that far. Perhaps I'm like your Uncle Alex. I come to visit a lot and hopefully I bring you goodies. I had an Uncle Harry who used to come visit us as a kid, and we loved his visits because he would bring candy and he would give me a quarter. It was just a delight. We knew that when Uncle Harry came to visit, it was good news. I think it's the same with 'Jeopardy!' -- when Alex Trebek comes to visit, it's good news. You'll be tested, you'll get some correct responses and you'll feel good about yourself.
So was Roger Craig the equivalent of a quarter or candy from Uncle Harry?
Roger Craig has big shoes to fill, of course ... Ken Jennings. I don't think we'll ever see another Ken Jennings to be quite honest with you. It's just too tough. Ken was the perfect storm. But there's always something coming up. This year on 'Jeopardy!' we have a teachers tournament. Teachers have been in the news a lot lately because the education system in this country is not living up to our expectations. Teachers have been protesting -- they want more money, they want smaller classrooms, they want this, they want that. In many cases, the demands are quite reasonable, but they haven't been featured in the past in a positive way like we could do with a teachers tournament ... so that's what we're going to do. It'll be in the spring when they're through with the school year though. [Laughs]
If you could bring in any one celebrity to be on 'Jeopardy!,' who would you choose?
Kevin Spacey is one person I'd love to have on the show. He'd be great.
Percentage wise, how much of the show's trivia would you say you retain in that noggin of yours?
Hard to say. I tend to retain the information more if it's from a subject that interests me, but if it's not, then it's in and it's out. Or it's in the far recesses of my brain, and if I were to encounter that bit of information again on a crossword puzzle, then I think I'd get it. I got something the other day and said, "How the hell did I know that?" But I did.
Crossword puzzles, huh?
Yep. I've started doing them because I'm worried about keeping my brain fresh, and not swinging into Alzheimers-ville.
You're not planning on retiring anytime soon, are you?
Well ... no, not really.
What would they do? I really think they'd have to end the show.
No, they would find somebody else. There's always a replacement available. Somebody will meet with a great deal of resistance early on, but if that person were good, he or she would win them over and it would be a whole new era for 'Jeopardy!' and it would go on for another 26 years.
Any plans for any other TV shows, webisodes or spoofs of yourself anytime soon?
Well there's something weird going on. Rainn Wilson has approached me and is asking me to do something ... we're not completely finalized on that. We've done a little bit together, and he is a wild and crazy guy, as you know. That might be a very great departure from my usual fare.
You're not going to be the new boss at Dunder Mifflin on 'The Office,' are you?
No! [Laughs] I suspect he'll be the new boss. It makes sense ... they need somebody who's a little off to take over. He'd be the one.