Ken Jennings is a name that’s very familiar to Jeopardy! fans, not so much music lovers.
And yet, the winner of the game show’s “Greatest of All Time” tournament and holder of the record for the longest winning streak merited a mention in Tuesday’s announcement of nominees for the 2021 Grammys. He received a nod in the category of Best Spoken Word Album, for his co-narration of the audio version of late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s July book, The Answer Is…: Reflections of My Life.
In the press release for the audio, Trebek explained Jennings’s involvement. “I wanted to narrate as much of the book as I could, especially certain parts, but I was worried my voice would give out, so I asked if Ken Jennings would help me out. He graciously agreed, and now you can hear the stories as read by both of us,” said Trebek, who died Nov. 8 after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Jennings was as pleasantly surprised as the rest of us to hear the Grammy news.
This should 100% be Alex’s Grammy nomination. He wrote the book and reads much of the audiobook! Who do I speak to about this
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 24, 2020
He gave all the credit to Trebek. The two had grown close since Jennings first appeared on the quiz show in 2004.
After Trebek died, Jennings was one of the first to pay tribute: “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.”
He said Tuesday that while, “I want to win this for Alex,” Trebek isn’t his sole motivation. He joked that he’d enjoy “taking down” one of his competitors in particular: storied actress Meryl Streep. She was part of the cast for an audio version of E.B. White children’s classic Charlotte’s Web nominated alongside him.
In addition to Streep, Jennings’s competition includes Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Flea (Michael Balzary) for Acid for the Children: A Memoir; MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for Blowout, her tome on the oil and gas industry’s effect on democracy; and journalist Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, which follows his reporting on the sexual misconduct accusations that brought down Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile figures in entertainment.
Jeopardy! viewers will soon see Jennings on a daily basis — temporarily, anyway. He’s one of the people who’ve been tapped to host the show in its post-Trebek era. Producers have yet to announce the others who will step up to the lectern Trebek had occupied since 1984.
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