Ken Jennings Breaks Silence on Mayim Bialik's "Jeopardy!" Exit
The remaining host said the decision "took [him] off guard."
After two years of sharing hosting duties with Ken Jennings, Mayim Bialik announced on Dec. 15 that she would no longer be hosting syndicated Jeopardy! The news came after a year in which Bialik was mostly away from the podium. In May, the actor stepped down from her hosting duties in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, and she didn't return after the series' summer hiatus when filming resumed in August, or when the WGA strike ended on Sept. 27. Bialik and Jeopardy! both gave statements about the 48-year-old's exit from the show, and now, Jennings has shared his thoughts on the matter, too.
On Dec. 15, Bialik posted on Instagram that she was no longer a co-host of the daily, syndicated version of Jeopardy!.
"As the holiday break begins in Hollywood, I have some Jeopardy! news," she wrote. "Sony 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. 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."
While Bialik mentioned the syndicated version of the show in particular, it had already been established that she would not be hosting the ongoing season of Celebrity Jeopardy!, which is being hosted by Jennings.
In regards to Bialik's exit, a spokesperson for Jeopardy! previously told Best Life, "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."
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jennings has now broken his silence on Bialik leaving Jeopardy!, and on becoming the sole host of the syndicated show.
"It took me off guard, because I loved working with my Mayim and I'm gonna miss her," Jennings said of the change. "I can't speak to her decision-making process or her opinions about it."
The former Jeopardy! champion added, "But on my end, I'm just a fan of Jeopardy! and I'm always delighted to host when they call upon me. I just feel extremely lucky to have even been considered for this job as a non-broadcaster."
Jennings added that he hopes he gets to host the show for many years to come, just like previous host, the late Alex Trebek.
"I loved growing up with Jeopardy! where Alex was the host of that show for almost 38 years, and people just kind of felt like he was part of their family, and it's impossible to fill those shoes," the 49-year-old said. "But it's such an honor and and hopefully I look forward to 37 more years of doing it, when I'll be a very, very old man."
While Jeopardy! noted in its statement that the reason for Bialik's exit was "continuity for our viewers," it has been speculated that Bialik stepping down during the strike or her personal views (such as her outspokenness about childhood vaccines and Israel) may have played a role in her firing.
The Ringer reported on these topics and noted that a Sony spokesperson said a recent videos from Bialik about Israel didn't have an impact on her exit. The report also notes that according to a source close to production, Jennings continued to get better as a host over the past two years, and his improvement was the main reason that he was named the sole host without Bialik.
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