September 20, 2021
The game show “Jeopardy!” announced on Thursday, September 16, that sitcom star Mayim Bialik would split hosting duties with Ken Jennings through the end of the year, The New York Times reports.
It was the latest twist in the game show’s drawn-out struggle to find a replacement for Alex Trebek, the popular longtime host whose death last November started a fraught succession battle.
“Jeopardy!” began by cycling through a series of guest hosts, to gauge their performance and audience response. Then it announced that the job would go to Mike Richards, who had been its executive producer. However, after a reporter unearthed a series of offensive and sexist comments that Richards had made on a podcast, he stepped down as host, and shortly thereafter that left the program entirely.
Bialik, who had initially been tapped alongside Richards to host a series of prime-time “Jeopardy!” specials, was enlisted to begin hosting weeknight programs as well. On Thursday, the program announced that she would share hosting duties with Jennings through the end of 2021.
“Everyone on the staff is supralunar,” the @Jeopardy account tweeted on Thursday.
Bialik will host episodes starting Monday, September 20, which will air through Nov. 5. After that, she and Jennings will split hosting duties as their schedules allow, according to Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces the show.
Jennings, who holds the record for the show’s longest winning streak as a contestant, had been considered a strong contender to take over as the show’s permanent host during the guest host tryouts, but past insensitive tweets of his came to light, which he then apologized for.
According to the Times, “Jeopardy!” had tried to settle its future over the summer when it named Richards, 46, as host, despite lack of name recognition among viewers and the fact that, as the show’s executive producer, he had overseen elements of the succession planning.
But after a report in The Ringer revealed degrading comments he had made on a podcast several years ago—including a 2013 episode during which Richards called his female co-host a “booth slut” because she once worked as a model at a consumer show in Las Vegas, and referred to stereotypes about Jews—he stepped down as host. Old lawsuits also resurfaced from Richards’s previous job running “The Price Is Right” that included accusations of sexist behavior.
Sony initially said he would remain as executive producer of “Jeopardy!” but soon afterward announced he would leave the show entirely.Before his resignation, Richards taped a week’s worth of “Jeopardy!” episodes in a single day of filming, which are currently airing. Bialik’s episodes will follow.
A spokesperson for Sony said the network had no update on its timetable for naming a new host, or whether it would be by the end of the year.
Research contact: @nytimes