A new chapter. After a slew of guest hosts, Jeopardy! announced that executive producer Mike Richards and The Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will take over for the late Alex Trebek after the longtime host’s death. While Richards will host the syndicated program, the actress will be at the helm of primetime and spin-off specials, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship.
“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s Favorite Quiz Show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of Jeopardy!,” Sony Pictures Chairman Ravi Ahuja said in a statement on Wednesday, August 11. “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show – deservedly so because it’s Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers.”
Trebek lost his nearly two-year battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer on November 11. He was 80.
“This is an enormous loss for the Jeopardy! staff, crew and all of Alex’s millions of fans,” Richards said in a statement at the time. “He was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years. Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host Jeopardy! was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever.”
Trebek started hosting Jeopardy! in 1984 and oversaw more than 8,200 episodes during his time on the show. He was last in the studio on October 29, just 10 days before his death. His final episode aired on January 8.
Prior to his death, the Daytime Emmy winner joked on a number of occasions that he wanted Betty White to replace him as the host of Jeopardy! After suggesting the Golden Girls alum, 98, during a February 2019 appearance at 92nd Street Y in New York City, he clarified, “It’s probably going to be a woman, somebody younger, somebody bright, somebody personable, somebody with a great sense of humor.”
Many longtime viewers of the quiz show had hoped that Ken Jennings would be named Trebek’s successor. The Washington native, 46, competed on Jeopardy! in 2004 and won 74 consecutive games. Jennings — who is the most successful American game show contestant of all time with more than $5.2 million in earnings — returned to Jeopardy! several times over the years, most famously in January when he defeated former champs Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer in the Greatest of All Time tournament. He started working as a consulting producer on the show in September and filled in as a guest host after Trebek’s death.