Mayim Bialik, Ken Jennings to host ‘Jeopardy!’ through end of 2021
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“Jeopardy!” has announced that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings have signed on to guest host “Jeopardy!” through the end of 2021 as sort of stop gap measure until Sony can make a decision about Alex Trebek’s second “permanent” replacement.
Actress and neuroscientist Bialik was already scheduled to host episodes airing through October 2021, which appears to have been extended through Nov. 5, 2021.
After that, she and former “Jeopardy!” champ Jennings will split hosting duties on the syndicated version of the show as their schedules allow.
“Jeopardy!” did not announce a specific schedule of who’s appearing when, perhaps because that hasn’t been firmed up yet.
Both Bialik and Jennings have commitments to other shows, though it’s not clear how, specifically, those might interfere with “Jeopardy!” production days.
Bialik’s Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat” was renewed for a second season and is set for a mid-season debut so her schedule is likely to get busier soon.
Jennings, meanwhile, has a role as a “chaser” on ABC’s game show “The Chase.”
Bialik’s schedule may be the hardest to work around; typically multicamera sitcoms like “Kat” require an entire week of long days ranging from table reads to rehearsals to taping of the actual show. Bialik also has a producer credit on the show so she may also have other pre- and post-production duties that require her attention.
Since “The Chase” is a game show, its taping schedule is likely a bit more flexible, though it does have to work around the schedules of Jennings’ fellow chasers.
Jennings also has a deal that includes him being a consulting producer for “Jeopardy!” but it’s no clear how much of his time that demands.
This move appears to be a way to kick the can down the road to see how things pan out while also “auditioning” Bialik and Jennings more in front of viewers before ultimately deciding on a permanent replacement (after the first “permanent” replacement Sony announced, Mike Richards, lasted only one tape day before resigning under pressure over past offensive comments).
The elephant in the room is that “Kat” hasn’t exactly done well in the ratings despite a lot of hype — so there’s a possibility it may not make it past a Season 2, which could free Bialik up considerably.
Likewise, a delay in making a final decision could also allow Jennings to either exit “The Chase” or allow the producers of both shows to better plan ahead and coordinate scheduling. It’s also possible “The Chase” would not return or be retooled.
It’s also possible “Jeopardy!” won’t end up going with either option and could be using the time to negotiate with other potential candidates.
“Jeopardy!” does have the advantage that it typically tapes five shows a day, twice a week, so it’s able to quickly build a bank of episodes. In fact, the time between taping and air date typically grows longer as the season goes on, but does get “reset” a bit thanks to scheduled hiatuses.
Both Bialik and Jennings are fan favorites, though Bialik has come under fire for past comments about vaccines and endorsement of a dietary supplement marketed to help brain health. Jennings reportedly was a top contender to take over after Richards exited, but then some offensive old tweets resurfaced.
Around that same time, reports emerged that former champ Buzzy Cohen, who hosted the Tournament of Champions in 2021, was a frontrunner, but has not been offered another guest hosting gig for 2021.