After a year of uncertainty over who will be the face of “Jeopardy!” The long-running quiz show has decided to stick with its current arrangement, splitting hosting duties between actress Mayim Bialik and former champ Ken Jennings, the show announced on Wednesday.
The announcement comes after a period of reflection and strategies on how the show can go on without its long-time host, Alex Trebek. After Trebek’s death in 2020, the competition program first hired a rotating team of potential hosts, effectively testing them on air, before announcing that the show’s executive producer, Mike Richards, would take the job permanently, with Bialik hosting prime-time specials.
Jennings will host regular seasonal shows through December, and Bialik will take over in January, according to the announcement from the show’s executive producer, Michael Davis.
The truth is, we have a lot of ‘risk! “To put in place, and so many plans for the future, that we always knew we would need multiple hosts for the franchise, and we are so grateful that Mayim and Ken stepped in and stepped in to put the show in a position to succeed,” he wrote.
The previously staid game show was upended when its initial succession plans collapsed due to a series of offensive comments made by Richards, his first selection as host, on a podcast. After he left, the show hired Bialik and Jennings to share hosting duties—temporarily, at first. The show announced last September that the duo would share the job for the remainder of 2021. Then, in December, the show said the arrangement would run through 2022.
But while the show was struggling to find a foothold behind the scenes, it continued to generate excitement and ratings with a string of star contestants. Within one season, four new heroes were added to the show’s all-time leaderboard, sparking much theorizing among fans about what became the streak series. For a while, the growing fame of the winning contestants—including Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, and Mattia Roach—seemed a welcome distraction from the lack of clarity over who would become the permanent face of the show.
Jennings maintained the lead as the contestant with the most consecutive wins (74) and the most money earned in a regular season game ($2.5 million) in the show’s history. Bialik has a Ph.D. In neuroscience and best known for her role as a scientist on the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” she made it clear from the start that she was interested in getting the job permanently, although she had to balance it out with her sitcom “Call I’m Cat.”
After Richards’ departure, Davis, the veteran game software producer who developed the original American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, took over? , temporarily as executive producer – a job that soon became permanent.
Under Davis’ leadership, the show worked to expand beyond its traditional structure, announcing a prime-time show, “Celebrity Jeopardy!” Which will start on ABC in September.
Bialik will host “Celebrity Jeopardy!” Jennings will host the upcoming Champions Tour, as well as a new Second Chance Tournament, where top players are required to return to compete. In his announcement, Davies hinted that there may be more affiliate programs in the future, noting that Bialik will also host two new tournaments, in addition to the college championship.
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