After two years of relative calm behind the scenes, Jeopardy! is officially weird again. And much of the tumult, not surprisingly, surrounds who is standing behind the game show’s iconic lectern.
To quickly recap: Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik — who last summer were officially installed as co-hosts of Jeopardy!‘s syndicated version after a chaotic year that saw the duo temporarily filling the void left by the late Alex Trebek’s original, short-lived successor, Mike Richards — were expected to continue sharing emcee duties for both the upcoming 40th season as well as the franchise’s myriad ABC primetime iterations (with Bialik once again handling Celebrity Jeopardy! duties solo). As executive producer/showrunner Michael Davies noted last spring, the unprecedented arrangement was working, even as fans continued to fiercely debate who was the superior host.
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“When Ken is hosting and Mayim is hosting, there’s zero difference [in the ratings],” Davies told Vulture at the time, adding, “I back both of them. I go to the studio every day and try to make both of them better at hosting the show and make a better program environment around them. They have my full support.”
The shared host format hit a snag last May when Bialik — who was slated to close out Season 39 — exited one week early in a show of solidarity with Jeopardy!‘s striking writers. As a result, Jennings stepped in for Bialik for Season 39’s final episodes.
Cut to Aug. 7, as the WGA work stoppage entered its third month, Davies — via the Inside Jeopardy! podcast — unveiled a strike-altered Season 40 game plan that involved using both recycled questions and recycled contestants, presumably until the labor dispute was resolved. Conspicuously missing from Davies’ lengthy announcement was any mention of who would be hosting the rejiggered show when Season 40 bowed on Monday, Sept. 11. Presumably, Bialik would continue to sit on the sidelines for the duration of the strike. But what about Jennings, who has been facing increasing pressure to follow his co-host’s lead in not crossing the picket line?
As reps for Jeopardy! and Jennings declined our multiple requests for clarification on the uncertain hosting situation, Jennings himself appeared to confirm that, yes, he would return as the show’s headliner, backlash be damned. Responding to a fan on Twitter/X who called him a “disgrace” for crossing the picket line, Jennings shared a highlighted portion of a recent Sony press release noting that Trebek stayed on as host during the 2007-08 writers’ strike (when the show once again used old, WGA-sanctioned material).
Things got even more strange from there.
On Aug. 18, Jeopardy!‘s official social handles released a new poster celebrating the just-wrapped 39th season that featured Jennings front and center. Bialik, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found, despite having presided over half of last season’s episodes.
Curiously, Sony — which produces Jeopardy! and could have easily chalked up Bialik’s missing mug to an oversight — declined to comment on the apparent snub. A follow-up query as to whether Bialik was still a part of the Jeopardy! family merited no response from the studio whatsoever.
By Monday, Jeopardy!‘s Instagram and X (fka Twitter) accounts had quietly deleted the Bialik-less Season 39 poster. Hours later, ABC announced that Jennings would be the new host of Celebrity Jeopardy! when the primetime offshoot returns on Sept. 27, replacing Bialik.
Meanwhile, Bialik’s camp at UTA, which, coincidentally, also represents Jennings, punted any/all questions about Bialik’s Jeopardy! future to Sony.
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