‘Jeopardy!’: Why Guest Host Mayim Bialik Says ‘There’s Little Room’ for Not Being Fully ‘Dialed In’

by Josh Lanier

In the game show’s parlance, the answer is: This person will be the next host of Jeopardy! Fans hotly debate the topic online, and executives say they’ll name a permanent replacement for Alex Trebek this summer. But whoever it is, recent guest host Mayim Bialik had some advice for them.

“There is very little room for not being 100% dialed in to the job of hosting when you are on that stage,” the actress and academic said in an email to the AP. It proved the most “joyful, challenging, transcendent act I have undertaken — second only to giving birth to my second son on the floor of my living room.”

Bialik, who has a Ph. D. from UCLA, completed her two-week run as Jeopardy! on Friday. The TODAY show co-host Savannah Guthrie will be at the host’s lectern on Monday. Though, Guthrie has already said she wouldn’t want to be the full-time host. You can see a timeline of upcoming hosts here.

Compounding matters for anyone who does lands the coveted job is having to follow Alex Trebek. Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 37 years before his death last year. The Canadian-born host made it look easy.

Deepak Sarma, a Case Western Reserve University professor and Netflix cultural consultant, told the AP Trebek set the bar high. “Anyone who is going to take his position will be judged in the end against this model of perfection.”

The show’s Executive producer Mike Richards said Sony Executives will use the guest-hosting stints as auditions.

“(Sony has) the most robust team of people I have ever seen looking at this and analyzing it in a very cerebral way,” Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards said. “It’s a real change from the way casting has traditionally been done on television.”

Bialik Raised Large Amount During ‘Jeopardy’ Sting

Mayim Bialik raised more nearly $200,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Health during her two weeks on Jeopardy! The show matches the contestants’ winnings during a guest host’s run and donates that to a charity of their choosing.

Mayim Bialik told USA Today that she chose the organization because of its mission to help treat those with mental illness and help their families. Bialik, who said she had been a “client” of the organization as well as a benefactor, said the last year caused such fear and anxiety that it felt the perfect choice for the money.

“To be honest, 2020 was a beast of a year, and my partner Jonathan [Cohen] and I have a shared passion for mental illness and mental illness education,” Bialik told Forbes. “So many more people have either occurrences of mental health challenges or they were experiencing intense anxiety for the first time in their life.”

This total pushes Jeopardy!’s total closer to $2 million donated overall. Guthrie is raising money for The Bowery House, which helps New York’s homeless and hungry.