Ken Jennings is back at the legendary lectern on Jeopardy!. After a parade of guest hosts manning the quiz board, the Jeopardy! GOAT and Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik will be trading places at the podium through 2021. Jennings’ bond with Jeopardy! and friendship with game show icon Alex Trebek give him an insider’s perspective on the beloved series, as well as the continued search for a permanent host.
‘Jeopardy!’ featured a lineup of guest hosts in 2021
The death of Jeopardy! icon Alex Trebek in November 2020 left an irreplaceable void at the quiz board. Jennings was the first person to serve as guest host in January of this year and was followed by a succession of famous faces. Today Show star Savannah Guthrie, GMA anchor Robin Roberts, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, and actor/producer LeVar Burton were just a few of the celebrities in the rotating lineup.
Previous executive producer Mike Richards was picked to take over the podium permanently until a scandal of past inappropriate comments came to light. For the first time in the show’s history, Jeopardy! made headlines for reasons that had nothing to do with the game.
With the recent announcement in September that Jennings and Bialik would be tag-teaming the job until a decision for a permanent host is reached, Jeopardy! now has a bit more consistency for viewers.
“Not sure if you’ve heard but @missmayim and @kenjennings are hosting me until the end of the year,” Jeopardy!’s Twitter account revealed. “Everyone on the staff is supralunar.”
Ken Jennings considers the ‘Jeopardy!’ game more important than the host
Many well-known television personalities threw their hats in the ring to be considered for the permanent Jeopardy! gig. Jennings felt that the campaigning by some potential candidates took away from the game show’s stellar brand and Trebek’s legacy.
“He just made it look graceful and effortless,” Jennings said of Trebek, according to the USA Today. “And it didn’t seem like there was enough of that kind of talk when the hosting roundtable was going on. It was all about, ‘This host deserves it because of this.’ “
Trebek was known for keeping the spotlight on the trivia board rather than himself. The Jeopardy! GOAT echoed the sentiment that the game show is the ultimate star rather than who stands at the podium.
“The virtue of that kind of rotation was people could see firsthand, maybe for the first time, that Jeopardy! was still Jeopardy!, even if we’d lost Alex,” Jennings explained. “He was such an integral part of the show that it was just impossible to imagine it without, him. And we still missed him, of course.”
‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT won’t campaign for hosting gig
Jennings quickly found his stride after returning to the Jeopardy! lectern, but isn’t focused on being asked to do the job full time. Still, the Washington native wouldn’t turn the offer down.
“I am really enjoying hosting, just because Jeopardy! means so much to me,” Jennings said. “But right now, all I’m thinking about is how the show is doing as a workplace, as a TV institution. … If my country called upon me to host Jeopardy! I would happily do my patriotic duty. That show is my first love.”
He added, “You’re not going to see me in the papers talking about how important it is that I ended up hosting. I would love it, but I honestly feel like, deep down, Jeopardy! is going to be OK either way.”
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