The drama over who the next permanent host of Jeopardy! will continue behind the scenes until someone is finally picked for the job. But there won’t be any question as to who stands at the podium for the rest of the year.
Sony Pictures Television announced on Thursday that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will split hosting duties through the end of 2021. Both were among the most popular guest hosts filling in — or auditioning — since Alex Trebek’s death last November.
Bialik was already hosting the show following the dismissal of executive producer and host Mike Richards. She was initially scheduled to host for 15 shows, airing over three weeks. But according to Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, Bialik will now serve as host for shows that will air through Nov. 5. After that, Jennings will share the role with Bialik as their schedules allow.
Scheduling conflicts were presumably a major factor in either Bialik or Jennings being selected as the permanent host to begin with. Bialik had been tapped to host prime-time Jeopardy! specials while Richards oversaw the syndicated, Monday through Friday program. That was reportedly a compromise to accommodate Bialik’s obligations to the Fox sitcom Call Me Kat, in which she has a starring role. However, producers wanted to offer her the full-time gig.
Jennings is reportedly still in contention for the permanent hosting job and is a consulting producer for the show. But he’s already been passed over for the role. Reportedly, ableist tweets that Jennings posted years ago and focus group reaction to them were a major reason why he wasn’t selected.
Richards had been selected as Trebek’s permanent replacement, raising questions about a process in which a producer who wanted the job ended up choosing himself for the role. But he stepped down just days after taking over in light of a report by The Ringer’s Claire McNear that uncovered misogynist, derogatory, and antisemitic remarks Richards made on a 2014 podcast as executive producer of The Price is Right. That same controversy soon resulted in him being replaced altogether.
Sony presumably doesn’t want to go through another run of guest hosts, some of which were far more popular than others. Especially if most of the fill-ins aren’t likely candidates for the regular position. Popular choices such as LeVar Burton may not want to be a guest-host again after others had already been chosen.
In the meantime, Jeopardy! also needs to hire a new executive producer to replace Richards. (Embassy Row’s Michael Davies, also a co-host of acclaimed soccer show Men in Blazers, is filling that role for now.)