Speaking to reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, the game show’s boss — who last May maintained publicly that the actress-turned-emcee had his “full support” — said that while Bialik is “a superb host,” in the end “Ken really won the job.”
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“When I took over the show” in the wake of the Mike Richards controversy, “we were forced into that [multi-host] situation, because of everything that had happened before with the guest-hosting period,” Davies explained. “Mayim was left hosting the primetime versions, and I brought in Ken to guest-host because Mayim had her Fox sitcom [Call Me Kat].”
“But 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,” Davies continued. “Mayim is a superb host — we hope to keep working with her on primetime versions and other spinoffs, those conversations are ongoing– but Ken really won the job.”
In the May 2023 Vulture interview, Davies had stated that there was “zero difference” in the ratings for Bialik-hosted episodes vs. Jennings’, adding that there were no “absolute” data that points to one being more popular than the other.
“I back both of them,” he declared at the time. “I go to the studio every day and try to make both of them better at hosting the show and make a better program environment around them. They have my full support.”
It was back on Dec. 15 that Bialik broke the Internet when she announced on Instagram, “Sony informed me that I will no longer be hosting the syndicated version of Jeopardy!”
Hours after Bialik shared the news, Sony released the following statement: “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.”
Bialik had been MIA from her $4 million-a-year Jeopardy! gig since last May, when she abruptly bowed out of Season 39’s final weeks in a public display of solidarity with the show’s striking writers, leading Jennings to step in and close out the season.
As the Big Bang Theory vet’s absence dragged on through the summer, questions began to swirl around her future with the franchise. The speculation intensified on Aug. 18 when Jeopardy! released via its official social handles a new poster celebrating the syndicated show’s 39th season that featured Jennings but not Bialik. At the time, Sony declined to comment on the decision to exclude Bialik from the now-deleted artwork. Days later, ABC announced Jennings as the new primary host of primetime offshoot Celebrity Jeopardy!, replacing Bialik.
For his part, Jennings says he was as surprised as everyone else by Bialik’s ouster, telling The Hollywood Reporter last month, “It took me off guard, because I loved working with my Mayim and I’m gonna miss her.”
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