‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mayim Bialik Doesn’t Feel ‘Awkward’ Stepping Up After Mike Richards’ Departure

by Leanne Stahulak

“Jeopardy!” has had its share of controversy and drama over the last few months, as the game show struggles to replace beloved longtime host Alex Trebek.

When Sony Pictures Television hired executive producer Mike Richards, they hardly expected him to step down from the spot nine days later. But he did so after his past comments on a podcast resurfaced and cast a negative light on him.

Since then, previous guest host Mayim Bialik has stepped into the role to help film the new season’s remaining episodes. She and “Jeopardy!” legend Ken Jennings will switch off on hosting duties until the end of this calendar year.

Despite “Jeopardy!” being so prominent and talked about due to its hosting controversy, Bialik doesn’t feel “awkward” about her new role as temporary guest host.

“There have been many conversations and weeks and weeks of us all getting adjusted to what’s been going on. There hasn’t really been anything that’s been a surprise, so there wasn’t really awkwardness,” Bialik told Fox News and AP. “I’m just excited to be able to do my job and do it to the best of my ability, as someone who likely would get everything wrong on ‘Jeopardy!’ It’s a real honor to get to stand up there.”

The temporary host was tapped to host “Jeopardy!” primetime specials such as the national college tournament when Richards got the job. She’s also filming the second season of her Fox show “Call me Kat,” fitting in hosting duties when her schedule allows it.

And even though Bialik doesn’t feel awkward on the “Jeopardy!” set, she acknowledged that the cloud from Richards continues to hang over the show.

‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mayim Bialik Talks Bringing ‘Stability’ to the Show with Ken Jennings

“To be honest, there’s been a lot unfolding over the last month, much of which the public knows about and a lot of which the public doesn’t necessarily need to know about,” Bialik revealed to NBC News. “What I can say is that when Mike [Richards] stepped down as host, what I said was, ‘How can I help?’ because I already had been welcomed into the ‘Jeopardy!’ family.”

Bialik’s help has certainly been appreciated by the show. The episodes she taped will air until November 5, after which we’ll start to see Jennings on our screens as well. Together, Bialik said, the two have one main goal.

“We’re… trying to get some stability and consistency back for our wonderful staff and crew, many of whom have been there for decades without any sort of drama or turmoil,” Bialik continued. “That’s what I think Ken and I are both focusing on right now.”

Bialik wants to bring “Jeopardy!” back to the way Alex Trebek approached it. He always talked about focusing on the contestants and their success.

“My interest right now is for the viewers to not think much about what’s going in terms of hosting,” Bialik said. “Meaning I’d like to be as much of a neutral to pleasant presence as host [as I can]. I really don’t want to make it about me, because it’s not.

“Really, [I’m] just trying to decrease any drama factor going on, and kind of go back to this incredible, iconic show. Which has a very long, long streak going right now, as well, with Matt Amodio.”

We’ll see 26-day champ Amodio on our screens with Bialik tonight as he goes for his 27th win.