Alex Trebek declares Paso Robles his favorite place - Westways Magazine

If the question is, “Who is Alex Trebek?” the answer might be, “The only person to ever host three TV game shows at the same time.” Trebek is best known for Jeopardy!, but there were a few months in 1991 when he also simultaneously hosted To Tell the Truth and Concentration. Now in his 30th season of Jeopardy!, the cool, intellectual, unflappable Trebek is a pop culture icon. He has five Emmys and two sidewalk stars, one on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the other on the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto. In addition to hosting 260 shows a year, Trebek has made more than two dozen cameo appearances in such TV shows as The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Nanny, The Golden Girls, The X-Files, Cheers, and Mama’s Family and in movies such as Rain Man and Charlie’s Angels. The 73-year-old native of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, says he enjoys chatting with the studio audience during commercial breaks while taping at the Sony lot in Culver City. And he gladly performs a never-ending list of chores at his getaway house at Lake Nacimiento in San Luis Obispo County.

You’ve always been modest about your success. How much is talent and how much is luck?I think fifty–fifty. There were talented hosts out there when they asked me to do Jeopardy! in 1983 for syndication. But, to be honest, Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek seem suited to each other. I appreciate knowledge, and I get a great deal of pleasure from learning new things.

You’re under contract until 2016. Will you retire after that?It’s up in the air. I may retire before that. My bosses say I’ve got the job as long as I want it. It all depends on how I feel.

You’ve given back by helping charitable groups. How do you pick these organizations?I got involved with World Vision because I saw a film about the starving kids and adults in Ethiopia in the late 1980s and it just touched my heart. The show got involved with the USO to provide the military opportunities to appear on Jeopardy! That led to a series of Department of Defense and USO tours. I think I’ve done 13 now. I’ve also been involved with the United Negro College Fund. My family adopted a village in Zambia. We built a schoolhouse and a medical facility and three houses for staff, and we drilled eight wells.

You became a U.S. citizen in 1998. Why?I’ve been here more than half my life. My children were born here, though they have dual citizenship. I made sure they got Canadian citizenship. My wife is American, so I just figured that it was the right thing to do. Two weeks after I became an American citizen, I got a letter to appear for jury duty. I’ve served five times in 15 years.

What made you decide to buy a house on Lake Nacimiento?I was approached by someone with land on the lake. He offered me a discount if they could use my name in advertising. Unfortunately, I’m not so much on Lake Nacimiento as “Stream Nacimiento.” It’s a reservoir and they let the water out to irrigate the area. We’re hoping for a lot of rain so we’ll be able to enjoy water sports in the spring and summer.

What is your favorite place in Southern California?I love the Paso Robles area, where I have my getaway place.

What do you like most about the Paso Robles area?It is very peaceful compared with L.A. I am fascinated by the diversity of the oak trees whenever I drive to Lake Nacimiento. By the way, Paso Robles means “pass of the oaks.”

What does it mean to you to be in your 30th season?It means I’ve been around a long time. It just means we’re part of Americana, and we’re part of your family now because everyone knows about us.

Any thoughts about what Jeopardy! means to Southern California?I don’t know if it means anything different to Southern California than it does to people everywhere. It’s a quality program that provides entertainment and informative material to all age groups. Kids can play it. Adults can play it. Grandparents can play it. There’s something for everyone. It’s a reflection of the American psyche, if you will.

The above article was featured in Westways Magazine. To view the article online, please click here.