‘Jeoapardy!’ fans are confused about how Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are introduced

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

Jeopardy!” fans are a bit confused about the different ways announcer Johnny Gilbert introduces Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik, who are serving as rotating hosts for the rest of the quiz show’s 38th season before a permanent host decision is presumably made before the start of the 39th.

When Jennings, who is also a consulting producer on the show, is introduced, Gilbert says “… and now, hosting ‘Jeopardy!,’ Ken Jennings.”

Compare that to “… and now, here is the host of ‘Jeopardy!,’ Mayim Bialik.”

Then, with the show’s National College Championship, Bialik’s intro changes again to “… and now, here is the host of primetime ‘Jeopardy!,’ Mayim Bialik.”

The difference between Jennings’ and Bialik’s is subtle but also not so subtle at the same time. They essentially are suggesting that Bialik is a full fledged host, while Jennings is just stepping into the role for (maybe) the time being.

In a way that’s technically true. Bialik is under contract with the show to be host primetime editions of “Jeopardy!” and was announced as such at the same time the show’s now former executive producer Mike Richards announced himself as the host of the syndicated version.

Richards ended up getting axed after just a day of taping amid controversy about his past and how he essentially gave himself the job, and the show would go on to announce that Jennings and Bialik would take turns hosting for the rest of the season before a decision is made.

Jennings, meanwhile, has not signed on as host that anyone knows of. In some ways, the show changing from introducing him as a “guest host” is a bit of a promotion, at least as far as how Gilbert introduces him.

It’s also worth noting that there are two distinct productions being discussed here.

The version that most people are most familiar with is syndicated. While it appears on ABC stations in many major markets, in other parts of the country the station that carries it varies. It’s sometimes referred to as the “daytime” version although it doesn’t always air during the day, especially on the east coast.

This is the version that Richards was briefly host of.

The primetime specials, meanwhile, always air on ABC. This does mean that, at least in some markets, the primetime specials and the regular daily shows air on different channels, but given that gameplay is separate, this isn’t a big issue as far as continuity goes.

It’s these editions that Bialik is under contract to host. All that said, it’s still a bit odd that “Jeopardy!” has opted to add that reference to “primetime ‘Jeopardy!'” to the announcement at the top of those shows.

“Jeopardy!” has a separate agreement with ABC to provide an unspecified number of primetime specials. While the same stage and most of the same staff is used on both, they are considered separate shows.

It’s impossible to know exactly why this decision was made without being privy to the decisions made behind the scenes and the show’s contracts and agreements with Jennings, Bialik and others.

However, it’s possible that Jennings and Bialik’s reps negotiated specific terminology that would be used to introduce them — that’s not uncommon in TV production — and given that Jennings is no longer referred to as “guest host” is a bit of an upgrade for him. It also is possible that Jennings wanted a “better” title than guest host, but the show didn’t want to give two people the title of “host.”