CULVER CITY, Calif. (CBS) — Katie Couric has taken on a lot of big assignments over her decades-long career as a journalist. But she admits she was daunted by her latest TV role – stepping in as guest host of “Jeopardy!” for the next two weeks, starting Monday.
“Of course I was nervous, are you kidding me?” Couric says in an interview shared by the show Sunday. “The last thing I wanted to do was come here and mess up and embarrass the show.”READ MORE: I-Team: State Police Cadaver Dogs Search For Source Of Mysterious Saugus Fly Infestation
But Couric said she felt less nervous as soon as she met the “Jeopardy!” team.
“The thing is, everyone here takes such good care of you and it was such a relief to know that they weren’t going to let me look stupid and they were going to have my back and help me out,” she said.
Couric said she’s long been a regular watcher of the quiz show but became a “religious” viewer in preparation for her guest hosting stint, studying how legendary host Alex Trebek moved from category to category, phrased his clues and interacted with the contestants.
“I love the show, I loved Alex Trebek. I was so inspired by him, especially by his courage toward the end of his life,” Couric said. “It’s just such an American institution and the opportunity to play a small part in the continuation of this show was just something i didn’t want to pass up.”
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Couric is the first woman to host “Jeopardy!” and said her message to little girls watching is that “it’s cool to be smart.”
She will be the first of many celebrity guest hosts to take the reins, following hosting stints for executive producer Mike Richards and former champion Ken Jennings.
After Couric, Dr. Mehmet Oz will guest host from March 22 to April 2. Then viewers will get Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers from April 5 to April 16, and CNN anchor/”60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper from April 19 to April 30.
Others slated to host at some point in the future include “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker, actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
A donation will be made to a charity of each guest host’s choice, equal to the cumulative winnings of the contestants that compete while they’re hosting. Couric’s charity is Stand Up To Cancer.MORE NEWS: Frates Family Kicks Off Ice Bucket Challenge Month
“Jeopardy!” airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on WBZ-TV.