Mayim Bialik And Ken Jennings Open Up About Negative Jeopardy! Experiences

Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are officially taking over Jeopardy! and both have spoken candidly about the negative publicity they have attracted.

By Vic Medina | Published

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Last month, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings were named the permanent hosts of the classic game show Jeopardy!, and now, they are talking about their experiences. In the wake of Alex Trebek’s tragic passing from a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, taking the reins from him at the helm of the classic game show was a tall order. In a new episode of the official Jeopardy! podcast Inside Jeopardy!, Bialik and Jennings speak with hosts Michael Davies and Sarah Whitcomb Foss about their experiences taking the host’s lectern and the challenges awaiting them.

According to TV Insider, Jeopardy returns for its 39th season on Monday, September 12th, and fans will see then how the show will work with the hosting duties being shared by two very different personalities. Mayim Bialik discussed how she will fill Trebek’s shoes, especially with such a critical group of fans watching how they handle things. She is still in awe of how Alex Trebek made it all look so easy. “I watched Alex do it up close, and I couldn’t understand the kind of ease and grace because you’re doing so many things at once, right?” she said, having been both a contestant and guest host. Likewise, Ken Jennings admits he still struggles with the basics. “Smart contestants, smart audience, and then on the toss to commercial, I like say my name wrong or something, and I’m like, ‘What is even happening?'”

Mayim Bialik also noted how she addresses the online criticism that has surrounded the show, especially amid so much controversy. “When you hear…’constructive criticism’ you try not to think too much about it,” Bialik said, admitting she takes all feedback with a grain of salt. Ken Jennings discussed first experiencing trolling from the internet when he was a contestant, and how he dealt with it. “I kind of had to disassociate from some of it,” he said, noting that Jeopardy! has such a large, diverse audience, and he shouldn’t worry about criticism from a small minority.

During the podcast, Davies (who is also the executive producer of Jeopardy!) revealed that 25 episodes of the new season have been filmed and teased that some special event announcements are coming up. We know that Ken Jennings will be the host during those initial episodes. In a July announcement, Davies revealed that Jennings will be the host when the season begins and stay on through December, and will helm the “Second Chance Competition” and “Tournament of Champions.” During that time, Mayim Bialik will host Celebrity Jeopardy!, which will air on ABC in primetime. She will then take over as host of the show in January and will host the Jeopardy! National College Championship. She will also host as many episodes as possible, as Davies notes that she also has a commitment to film her Fox comedy series Call Me Kat. He also said that they will not be constantly going back and forth with Bialik and Jennings as hosts and will strive to have them host as many episodes together as possible.

The hosts won’t be the only thing different when the show returns in September. The “Clue Crew,” a group of individuals who provide questions from locations around the world, will not return. That will put an even greater focus on Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, and they both admit trying to keep the approach simple, with the viewers in mind. “You’re trying to run the show for the contestants, you’re part of the game just like the writers of the board, but you’re also trying to interpret it for the folks at home. And it goes so fast,” Bialik said.