The search for Alex Trebek’s successor as “Jeopardy!” host is officially over: Sony Pictures Television announced Wednesday that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, who split hosting duties throughout the past season, have each closed and signed deals to become a permanent host of the show going forward.
According to a statement from executive producer Michael Davies, viewership numbers were up with Bialik and Jennings as hosts; more than 27 million viewers tuned in each week. “When you consider that almost every other show in broadcast television and syndication is declining, this has been a quite remarkable season: we’re the most-watched entertainment show on all of television,” Davies wrote.
Jennings will host from September’s Season 39 premiere through December, during which time Bialik will host a run of prime-time “Celebrity Jeopardy!” specials on ABC. Bialik, who will still star in the Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat,” is set to take over for Jennings in January. Both will host additional “Jeopardy!” content as well: the first Second Chance competition and the Tournament of Champions for Jennings, and “Jeopardy! National College Championship” and other new tournaments for Bialik.
“We know you value consistency, so we will not flip flop the hosts constantly and will keep you informed about the hosting schedule,” Davies stated, adding that Bialik and Jennings “have both been a joy to work with.”
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Bialik and Jennings were announced as temporary “Jeopardy!” hosts in September after former executive producer Mike Richards stepped down from hosting the daily syndicated program in response to ongoing controversy. News articles had resurfaced on social media about how Richards, formerly executive producer of “The Price Is Right,” had been named years before in lawsuits from models on the game show who alleged sexual harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination. The Ringer also published an extensive piece about his past, including derogatory comments made on a podcast about women, Jewish people and Haiti.
At first, Sony stood by its decision to have Richards host “Jeopardy!” Richards apologized, describing it as “humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.” But the backlash didn’t fade, and he eventually stepped down. “Jeopardy!” dumped him as executive producer, too.
It was already a tall order to replace longtime quizmaster Trebek, who died in November 2020 of pancreatic cancer. At 80, he had hosted “Jeopardy!” for more than three decades and had become a comfortable presence in millions of American households. In announcing Bialik and Jennings as permanent hosts, executive producer Davies described them as “simply lovely humans” who “love and respect this institution of a television program.”
The program itself has continued to make the news in Trebek’s absence, especially attracting attention with contestant Amy Schneider’s history-making streak, which came to an end in January. She won 40 games, making her the player with the second-most consecutive wins of all time (behind Jennings, who made it to 74) and the fourth-highest regular season winnings.