Ken Jennings had no idea Mayim Bialik was leaving ‘Jeopardy’

Ken Jennings had no idea Mayim Bialik was leaving ‘Jeopardy’

  27 Dec 2023

Ken Jennings was just as surprised as everyone else when his “Jeopardy!” co-host Mayim Bialik announced last week that she was leaving the game show.

“It took me off guard, because I loved working with my Mayim and I’m gonna miss her,” Jennings told the Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t speak to her decision-making process or her opinions about it.”

The former “Jeopardy!” champion added that he did not know what motivated the decision, which left him as the sole host of the show after splitting hosting duties with Bialik since 2021.

Bialik announced her departure on Friday in a statement posted to her X account, writing, “Sony has informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy!”

Sony Pictures Television, which produces the series, previously said in a statement to The Times that the studio “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!,” the statement continued, “and we hope to continue to work with her on primetime specials.”

Jennings and Bialik were part of rotating cast of hosts who stepped in after longtime host Alex Trebek died in November 2020. Other guest hosts included LeVar Burton, Anderson Cooper, Aaron Rodgers and Katie Couric.

The show’s then-executive producer Mike Richards was tapped as a permanent replacement in 2021. But the stint lasted only a week after sexist comments Richards had made on a podcast resurfaced, along with previous lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, gender-based harassment and retaliation filed by former female employees on “The Price Is Right” while he produced that show.

Jennings and Bialik closed out the rest of the year as co-hosts before the roles became permanent last year.

Before becoming host, Jennings had a prolific run on TV game shows, dominating “1 vs. 100,” “Grand Slam,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and “Jeopardy!,” on which he set a record for the longest winning streak in 2004 at 74 games. He told THR that he felt “extremely lucky to have even been considered for this job as a non-broadcaster” and added that he looked forward to “37 more years of doing it, when I’ll be a very, very old man.” Trebeck had hosted the show for 38 years, taping his final episode just 10 days before his death.

A star of CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Bialik also starred in and produced the sitcom “Call Me Kat,” which Fox canceled this year after three seasons. She continues to host her popular weekly podcast, “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown.”

Times staff writer Ashley Lee contributed to this report.

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