Mayim Bialik to Take Over 'Jeopardy!' as Guest Host Amid Shake-Up

Mayim Bialik will be the first guest host of Jeopardy! now that Mike Richards has stepped down.

The Big Bang Theory alum is scheduled to tape three weeks of episodes (so, 15 episodes) when production on the syndicated daytime hit resumes this week.

Additional guest hosts are expected to be announced in the wake of Richards leaving the hosting podium just one week after being announced for the position by Jeopardy! producer Sony Pictures Television.

Richards stepped down amid a series of scandals; most notably, resurfaced offensive comments made on his podcast from 2013-14 and prior discrimination lawsuits during his time as executive producer on The Price Is Right.

Richards remains executive producer on Jeopardy! but is not actively involved in the search for a new permanent host.

But Bialik guest-hosting 15 episodes gives Sony a bit of runway to figure out next steps amid a chaotic situation.

Bialik is currently on hiatus from filming her Fox comedy Call Me Kat. She was previously announced as a host for Jeopardy!‘s primetime specials, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship. Sources say Bialik was originally a top choice of Sony’s brass to host the daytime syndicated series, but it was impossible to square the current Jeopardy! production schedule with her upcoming Call Me Kat season two schedule — which had already been locked by the time the studio was ready to move forward. That said, Bialik has signaled she’s interested in staying on board, particularly if Call Me Kat season three doesn’t happen or its schedule can be shifted to accommodate filming Jeopardy! as well. “She’s stepping in for now, but she’d certainly be excited to take on a larger role,” said a person familiar with the process.

Fan-favorite Ken Jennings is also said to still be in contention to replace the late Alex Trebek, and continues to have a behind-the-scenes role as a consulting producer. Tapping Jennings at this point would be a tad awkward for Sony, as it’s impossible to present him as the company’s first choice after announcing and advocating so hard for Richards (whereas Bialik’s schedule conflict can be pointed at to explain not picking her the first time).

Richards came and went after filming just one day last week as the new “permanent” host of Jeopardy!. He released a statement Friday that said, in part: “It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter …. 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. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately … I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks, and for the confusion and delays this is now causing. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”

While Sony released the statement: “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward. Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy! team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”

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