How did Jeopardy!'s host search end with not one, but two people being hired? Some new details are beginning to trickle out.
Jeopardy! confirmed this week it has hired executive producer Mike Richards as the permanent new host of the syndicated quiz show, but there was a surprise additional detail: The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik was also hired to host Jeopardy!'s "primetime and spinoff series." Fans expressed confusion over why the show was tapping two hosts, and some even alleged Sony was trying to distract from the controversy over Richards getting the daily job. On Friday, though, TMZ reported that Bialik actually might have gotten the main, full-time gig "if she just had the time."
According to the TMZ report, Bialik actually tested highest with focus groups after she guest hosted earlier this year, and executives were interested in hiring her for the main job. But they reportedly knew this wouldn't be possible because of her other commitments, including to the sitcom Call Me Kat that was renewed for a second season on Fox. This, TMZ claims, is where the idea for two hosts came into play.
"Because they loved her so much ... we're told Jeopardy! honchos came up with the idea for 2 hosts — one for the daily show, and Mayim for the quiz show's primetime and spin-off specials," TMZ reports.
The report didn't make clear at what point the dual host idea came about, but Sony executive Ravi Ahuja says "we knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities." The final decision has been controversial, primarily because the main job is going to the show's own executive producer who has been involved in past discrminiation lawsuits, as well as because fan favorites like Ken Jennings and LeVar Burton were passed over. Richards will officially take over as host in September, while Bialik will host a college championship on ABC in 2022.