Mayim Bialik will no longer be hosting Jeopardy, Ken Jennings is the permanent host

If you thought (like I did) that we were finished with Jeopardy host shenanigans, then you (and I) were mistaken. Mayim Bialik had one week left of filming Jeopardy’s 39th season when the writers strike began in May. Since Jeopardy had WGA members, Mayim decided to show solidarity and did not film that final week. Ken Jennings, her alternating co-host, stepped in to finish Season 39. Some argued that it was not a direct scab since the material had been written before the strike was called. Mayim hasn’t been back to host since. So this weekend’s official announcement feels like late confirmation of what’s already been in effect for half a year: Mayim Bialik will not be back, Ken Jennings will handle all hosting duties on his own.

Mayim Bialik’s run on “Jeopardy!” has come to an end.

The “Big Bang Theory” actor, who was announced as the permanent co-host of the quiz show alongside former champion Ken Jennings last summer, shared the news Friday in an Instagram post.

“As the holiday break begins in Hollywood, I have some Jeopardy! News. Sony has informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy!” Bialik wrote in her statement.

She added, “I am incredibly honored to have been nominated for a primetime Emmy for hosting this year and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Jeopardy! Family. For all of you who have supported me through this incredible journey and to the fans, contestants, writers, staff and crew of America’s Favorite Quiz Show, thank you.”

Jennings has been hosting Season 40 of the syndicated show solo since it premiered in September.

“Mayim Bialik has announced she will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy!” a spokesperson for the show shared in a statement to USA TODAY on Friday. “We made the decision to have one host for the syndicated show next season to maintain continuity for our viewers, and Ken Jennings will be the sole host for syndicated Jeopardy!”

“We are truly grateful for all of Mayim’s contributions to Jeopardy!, and we hope to continue to work with her on primetime specials,” the statement concludes.

Bialik hosted the first season of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” which premiered last year. In August, it was announced that Jennings would be stepping in for her amid the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes; Bialik is a member of SAG-AFTRA, whose strike ended in November.

USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Bialik.

Bialik stepped away from the game show podium this summer in solidarity with striking Hollywood writers, according to a report from industry outlet Deadline.

At the time, “Jeopardy!” had one week of taping left in Season 39 that was meant to be hosted by Bialik, but Jennings crossed the picket line to finish the series’ production before the summer hiatus, according to a person familiar with the plans who was not authorized to speak publicly.

[From USA Today]

Skipped over in that reporting is the bit where fans petitioned for LeVar Burton to take over hosting after Trebek passed, Jeopardy instead conducted months of guest hosts to audition for the next one, then ended up naming head of the new-host committee and executive producer Mike Richards as host, only for Mike to be forced out of the job before he’d barely begun over his (public) record of being a dick. I’ll say this for Wheel of Fortune, whatever you feel about Ryan Seacrest (and all feelings are valid), they clearly wanted to keep their transition swift after watching Jeopardy make a mess of things. The line they’ve settled on about “continuity” for the audience is particularly funny, given that Jeopardy is the one who foisted two hosts upon us. Mayim was named alongside Mike Richards in his brief 2021 tenure, and then they replaced him with Ken Jennings while still keeping Mayim. Although I never understood the need for two hosts, I wasn’t exactly suffering from confusion over it either.

Now that Ken is officially taking command of all duties, he can expect a special package coming his way. From my mother. Here’s the backstory: my wonderful father passed away this summer. He left behind many treasured collections, one being an impressive array of silk ties. They are gorgeous. As my mother and I have been going through them, we’ve been setting aside ones we want to keep for ourselves, and ones to give to other family and friends. Then my mother pipes up, “Oh, and please let me know which ones you think Ken will like.” I was like, who? And she went on, “Ken Jennings. On Jeopardy. He needs some of these to spice up his tie collection.” I’ll take overstepping for $600, please! For what it’s worth, Ken, my mother was a Jeopardy contestant herself in the 80s.

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Photos credit: Getty, Faye’s Vision/Cover Images and via Instagram

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