For the first time since Alex Trebek’s tragic passing one year ago, Jeopardy! did right by fans and had his protege, Ken Jennings, come out to host on the anniversary of his death. Moving forward, fan-favorite Ken will host the gameshow for the rest of 2021. Which begs the question: What happened to Mayim Bialik? Are we seeing another dramatic upheaval?
In short: No. Nothing has changed in fact. Here’s the deal:
Both Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings are currently under contract to share Jeopardy! hosting duties throughout 2021. Mayim just wrapped up 7-weeks-straight of hosting duties. On the anniversary of Alex Trebek’s death (Nov. 8), Ken Jennings took over and will remain host for the rest of the 2021.
Neither Mayim nor Ken have been named the next permanent host, Decider confirms. At this point, either of the personalities could become the long term face of Jeopardy!. But we simply don’t know at this point in time.
Ken Jennings is Integral to the ‘Jeopardy!’ Legacy
As fans will note, both would guest host the show over the course of 2021. Jennings held a months-long run as “interim host” prior, filling in for Trebek just weeks after his passing. It was no easy task, either, as Ken had lost his hero – like so many Jeopardy! die-hards.
“I miss Alex a lot,” Jennings said to the audience during the Nov. 8 episode. “When I’m in here, I feel like he’s probably in the building somewhere. It’s hard not to talk about him in the present tense.”
As Ken notes, “The first day I came in to guest host was just a few weeks after Alex passed, and it was a really rough time.”
But the late host’s wife, Jean, would do all she could to help pass the torch. “I got to the studio and one of the producers handed me a little box. Alex’s wife, Jean, had given me a pair of cufflinks that he had wore on the show.”
It’s not just fans that want to see Jennings as the permanent host, it would seem.
The Mike Richards Debacle
Of course, we’re only in this debacle because Jeopardy!‘s own controversial pick, EP Mike Richards, backfired immediately. Richards was infamously involved in selecting the next permanent host while he himself was a contender. Once the job was his, a slew of “offensive and sexist comments” (per GQ ) would oust him as quickly as he was in.
“As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” the trade quotes of Richards. “However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
And now, Jeopardy! fans, we wait for our new permanent host. Fingers crossed, as always, for one Ken Jennings.