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Until the writers’ strike (which began in May 2023), Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik had been splitting hosting duties for Jeopardy!. Then, out of solidarity with the writers, Bialik stepped back and Jennings filled in as host. Then, in December 2023, nearly two months after the writers’ strike ended, Bialik revealed on Instagram that she had been told by the studio that she wouldn’t be returning to the game show.
“We were forced into that [multi-host] situation, because of everything that had happened before with the guest-hosting period,” executive producer Michael Davies said at the 2024 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. “Mayim was left hosting the primetime versions, and I brought in Ken to guest-host because Mayim had her Fox sitcom.” (She’d also been working on Call Me Kat, which was canceled after two seasons in May 2023, three days after the beginning of the writers’ strike.)
According to the EP, the decision was made due to feedback those at the show received and is in line with the studio’s statement after her initial departure. “Over the past 2-1/2 seasons, what we’ve heard a lot from our television stations and other interested parties is they were looking for more consistency, they wanted a single host,” he explained, noting that the hope is to continue to work with Bialik (calling her “a superb host”)—and there are conversations—on primetime versions and other spinoffs. “But Ken really won the job.”
Bialik was the first to reveal that she wouldn’t be returning to Jeopardy! at the end of last year. “Sony has informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy! I am incredibly honored to have been nominated for a primetime Emmy for hosting this year and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Jeopardy! family,” she wrote on social media. “For all of you who have supported me through this incredible journey and to the fans, contestants, writers, staff and crew of America’s Favorite Quiz Show, thank you.”
Following that statement, Sony released its own, reading, “Mayim Bialik has announced she will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy!. We made the decision to have one host for the syndicated show next season to maintain continuity for our viewers, and Ken Jennings will be the sole host for syndicated Jeopardy!. We are truly grateful for all of Mayim’s contributions to Jeopardy!, and we hope to continue to work with her on primetime specials.”
Jennings is also the host of primetime versions of the game show, including Celebrity Jeopardy! and the just-renewed Jeopardy! Masters. Soon after the news broke of Bialik’s dismissal, TV Insider spoke with Jennings. “I was surprised,” he said of what happened. “I love working with Mayim, but I can’t speak to her decision-making here. But [when it comes to] Jeopardy!, I am just a fan of the show and I am always delighted to host it when called upon because I love doing it.”