Actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik and legendary “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings will trade off hosting duties for the rest of 2021 on the long-running quiz show, which is still looking for a permanent host after would-be permanent host and executive producer Mike Richards stepped down last month after a series of controversies and questionable optics.
Richards had already filmed a week’s worth of episodes, which are airing this week. After his swift resignation, Bialik, best known for playing Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” took over as guest host.
Bialik, Jennings and Richards were all among the rotating guest hosts earlier this year, following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek. In August, Sony Pictures Television, which produces the legendary game show, named Richards as the new permanent host of the daily syndicated show. It also announced that Bialik would host a new series of primetime specials and spinoffs. Many “Jeopardy!” fans protested the decision to give Richards — also the show’s executive producer — the main position, while Bialik got what seemed like a secondary role.
Richards came with a lot of baggage. There were questions about how closely he was involved in the process of selecting a new host while also vying for the position himself.
Shortly before Sony announced his ascension, several news outlets resurfaced discrimination lawsuits from his time as executive producer of “The Price Is Right,” which revealed allegations that he led a toxic work environment.
On Aug. 18, The Ringer’s Claire McNear reported that Richards routinely made sexist and racist comments on a podcast he co-hosted during his time at “The Price Is Right.”
In response, Richards, who was about to begin filming his first episodes the next day, issued an apology. But it became increasingly untenable for him to remain the face of the show.
A day later, Richards announced he was stepping down, and Sony executives would resume searching for a new host.
“Over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show,” he wrote in a memo to the show’s staff. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
Initially, Richards stayed on as the show’s executive producer, but that too was untenable, and Sony announced his resignation on Aug. 31.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that Bialik and Jennings would host through the rest of the season. The announcement states they will be hosts through the rest of 2021.