‘SNL’ Torches ‘Jeopardy!’ Hosting Drama in Cold Open

by Josh Lanier

A lot happened this summer when Saturday Night Live was on break. To catch up, the cast is bundling controversies into the same sketch to get them out of the way. The show went after Jon Gruden and the NFL but slipped in some shots at Jeopardy! and its controversies last night.

The show kicked off with a cold-open sketch about Gruden’s racist and homophobic emails and the NFL’s response. Newcomer to Saturday Night Live James Austin Johnson played Gruden. He wanted the public to know that he wasn’t using that F-word. He was trying to spell frigate but autocorrect burned him.

Toward the end of the sketch — after the Raiders and the NFL botched every attempt to get beyond Gruden’s emails — the Raider announce their new coach: LeVar Burton. “A coach even Twitter can get behind,” the fake Raiders owner says, referring to the massive social media campaign to have the actor named Jeopardy! host.

Kenan Thompson enters in Burton’s iconic glasses from Stark Trek: The Next Generation. He gets in a jab at Jeopardy! right away.

“Suck on that, Mayim Bialik!” he says. “I am the supreme football host now. I’ll take offense for $300. What is a handoff? I’m genuinely asking. I’m a theatre kid, ya know?”

Jeopardy! chose to go with former executive producer Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik as host of the syndicated show and primetime episodes, respectively. That August decision blew up on the launch pad as Sony fired Richards only a few days after reporters unearthed his past misogynistic remarks on his podcast.

Despite a second push to get Burton behind the host’s podium, Jeopardy! chose to use Bialik — and eventually Ken Jennings — as interim hosts until producers name a permanent replacement

Mayim Bialik Wants to Keep Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’

Sony hasn’t decided who will be the permanent Jeopardy! host going forward. But Mayim Bialik doesn’t want to give up the host’s podium ever.

She explained to Newsweek last month how much the show means to her.

“When I left The Big Bang Theory, I said that there would never be another job like it,” she said. “It was the best job I had ever had, besides being a parent. I can now say that there is no other job I’d rather have than this job on Jeopardy!. I joke that I would give up my first child to host permanently! (But) I think my son and I have a close enough bond that he will come back to me!”

It seems like she’s the most likely front runner for the full-time gig. Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings will come in next month to help out on hosting duties, as well.

But it’s not going to happen for LeVar Burton. He said recently that he’s given up on his dream of hosting Jeopardy! But he is still considering other game shows.