Hosted by Sara Haines, The Chase is an adaptation of the British game show in which contestants face off against trivia masters, the masters in this case being Jennings, Holzhauer and Rutter. ET's Kevin Frazier spoke to Haines as well as the three champions, who talked about the tribute to Trebek right at the beginning of the show, which premieres on Thursday on ABC.
Jennings got emotional while talking about the tribute to Trebek, who died in November after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
"I think it was just in recognition of the fact that the kind of people who watch this show are still gonna be feeling sad, like all four of us were," he tells ET. "You know, we miss Alex. He's synonymous with this kind of fun, brainy evening entertainment, and people have had him in their homes for decades, you know, we just wanted to give voice to that."
Meanwhile, Haines talked about Trebek's incredible legacy, and the bittersweet timing of the show's premiere.
"I think trivia is always associated with Jeopardy! and Jeopardy! might arguably be the most famous game show that ever was," she notes. "It exists in the pop culture in a way that people, whether they were regular watchers or not, can identify with the whole, 'What is ...,' like, you make jokes about it. To know that the sad and tragic timing of when this show is coming out, the fact that these three men are kind of the center of it, and Alex sadly passes, I think it all was sad, but in some ways, was a passing torch or a baton of a beautiful moment where we get a spotlight -- three men that have really encapsulated massive journeys on Jeopardy! ... so to come right at the beginning of a new year with all that a new year will bring our world right now, it's a hopeful moment that I felt lucky to be a part of."
Jennings also talked about the possibility of taking over Trebek's hosting duties on Jeopardy!, after serving as the first interim guest host after Trebek's death.
"I don't think there has been any decision because it is just such a rapidly developing situation, nobody expected to lose Alex this soon and we are still grieving about it, honestly, and basically, they just needed someone who could sit in the chair," he explains. "Alex did not want Jeopardy! to end, the show's got tens of millions of fans, Jeopardy! needed to call somebody up and I got the letter in the mail and I serve the privilege of Jeopardy! for as long as they need me."
Jennings did share that he and Trebek had a conversation about the possibility of him becoming the host.
"I spoke to him shortly before he passed actually and he was very confident that I could do it, he just kind of took it for granted and I was like, 'Alex, that is very sweet but you know you are the best at that job,' but I appreciated his trust," he shares.
Meanwhile, his focus is on his new show, which Holzhauer says will definitely feature some trash talk between the three chasers and a healthy dose of competitiveness.
"I think the three of us -- well, maybe it was just me -- but I think all three of us are definitely out there like, 'How does this guy know that?' or 'Oh, I want to beat the best score anyone's come up with on the show,' and things like that, and I think this will continue along the way, for sure."
Rutter also talked to ET about how they prepare for the show, including reading the encyclopedia.
"There's a little bit of that, but there's a huge canon of trivia knowledge that you can't possibly learn it all and study it all," he points out. "It's mostly just paying attention to things and having a certain interest in knowledge going back to, for me, when I was a little kid. So, ever since I could remember I always just liked knowing things. And then for sure your brain has to work a certain way where if you learn an interesting fact, it'll just kind of stick up there and then you can recall it later on. So, I'm sort of working all the time in that respect because if I see anything that catches my interest I pay attention to it, somehow it sticks up there. ... It'll still pop up pretty quickly when somebody asks me about it."