“Jeopardy!” is holding its first-ever Professors’ Tournament. The competition, which will air from Dec. 6 to Dec. 17, will pit trios of academics against each other until a winner emerges.
Professors from 15 colleges and universities will go head-to-head in the tournament, which Mayim Bialik will host, Deadline reports. They are battling it out for a $100,000 grand prize and a space in the upcoming Tournament of Champions.
“It was an unbelievable thrill to see so many brilliant professors from all kinds of schools and backgrounds come together on the ‘Jeopardy!’ stage,” Bialik said in a statement. “There was a sense of kinship and academic camaraderie among the group, along with a healthy dose of competitiveness. That energy made this inaugural Professors Tournament incredibly special.”
‘Jeopardy!’ Has Yet to Settle on Permanent Host
“Jeopardy!” announced in September that Bialik and former “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings would be sharing hosting duties for the rest of 2021. Jennings is also a consulting producer on “Jeopardy!”.
The show has yet to settle on a permanent host to replace “Jeopardy!” legend Alex Trebek, who died on Nov. 8, 2020 of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. After Trebek’s death, the show embarked on an exhaustive search, during which time a rotating cast of celebrities filled in as guest hosts.
The only non-celebrity among the guest hosts was “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards. Richards was more of a behind-the-scenes guy, but he evidently had ambitions to appear before the cameras, because he, too, threw his hat in the ring. And while Richards insisted that it was ultimately up to Sony executives to choose a replacement for Trebek, “Jeopardy!” fans were stunned when the news broke that Richards would be that replacement.
But Richards’ reign was short-lived. First, it emerged that he’d been named in employment discrimination lawsuits from two women. Then comments surfaced from a podcast Richards had hosted in which he berated his assistants using sexist language and made disparaging remarks about little people and various ethnic groups.
For Sony executives, the latter development was too much, especially coming as it did after the lawsuits. First Richards was out as host, then also as executive producer. “Jeopardy!” staffers reportedly welcomed the news.
Bialik and Jennings Honored Late Host Alex Trebek on Anniversary of His Death
Meanwhile, Bialik and Jennings both honored Alex Trebek in different ways on the anniversary of his death.
Bialik marked the day with a thoughtful epitaph posted to social media. She tweeted a photo of Trebek in his early days as game show host, adding the message: “Remembering the passing of the great Alex Trebek a year ago today. Alex was a legendary entertainer, philanthropist, and lover of life. We miss you, Alex.”
Jennings, meanwhile, appeared as “Jeopardy!” host for the first time since his guest-hosting stint in the wake of Trebek’s death. He told USA Today that producers had kept him in the dark about exactly when his first episode back would air while they were taping it. But on Nov. 8, there Jennings was on TV, standing at the podium that Trebek occupied until his final months of life.
It remains to be seen whether Sony executives will continue the dual-hosting arrangement into next year or will pick one permanent host. But “Jeopardy!” fans, never shy about expressing their opinions, are sure to weigh in on that one.