Mayim Bialik co-hosted ‘Jeopardy’ with Ken Jennings

Who will be the next host of “Jeopardy”?

To regular viewers of the long-running quiz show, taking off to guess Mayim Bialik or Ken Jennings—who took turns as director after Alex Trebek’s death—may seem like the right response.

But in reality, it is still not clear who will lead the film “Danger” beyond this year.

After the role of finding Trebek’s successor turns chaotic, Bialik and Jennings are set as temporary hosts for the remainder of season 39, which is currently airing. After that, there is no word yet on whether a new hosting competitor will be considered, or whether a choice will be made between Jennings and Bialik. Another option: Sony Pictures Television, the show’s producer, may decide to stick with the status quo and allow the duo to continue dividing the tasks. Sony Pictures Television declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Bialik says she is doing everything she can to satisfy “Jeopardy’s” loyal fan base. “I really try to be as neutral as possible,” she says.

With several games—including the recent Masters Championship—under her belt, Bialik is beginning to set her own trends as the face of “Jeopardy.” But the former “Big Bang Theory” star joked that learning the tricks of the trade didn’t come without hiccups.

“I have two red buttons, but they removed one of them,” Bialik said, laughing. Unlike runners, who use tapping devices as a way to lock answers, their pointing device is meant to alert “risk” producers if they’re confused about an idea or get stuck in words. “I just hit the bug, so they took it away. They just left the other emergency button in place. So I have a disabled emergency button.”

Starting February 8, Bialik will be hosting the “Jeopardy! National College Championship,” featuring students from 36 schools across the country and offering a first place prize of $250,000. Before the competition, I spoke to diverse About learning to speak “Jeopardese,” balancing supervisor responsibilities with Jennings, and hosting advice she chose to ignore.

What was it like balancing hosting duties with Ken Jennings?

I’m so glad I’m working on it [the sitcom] “Cat Call Me” for three weeks out of the month. The week I don’t, I have to do a Jeopardy game. When “Call Me Kat’s” season ends in March, I will be on “Jeopardy” full time. Ken is so likable, it’s incredible. It’s a whole different level in the realm of “Danger”. When I first met him, I was so excited. He is also tall. I never thought he was as tall as him.

How would you describe your hosting style compared to Ken’s?

Every host, as we’ve learned from the case of guest-hosting, brings a little bit of their personality. I stopped reading the comments because some people said, “She acts like she knows everything” and others were like, “She obviously knows nothing.” I’m like, well, it’s one or the other or somewhere in between. In terms of that, I try not to notice because people have strong opinions about “risk”. I am a female, and as much as men and women can and should do the same things, women are viewed differently. I really try to be as present as possible so it is not an issue. I have to be myself. I make a lot of stupid jokes. Ken and I want to highlight our contestants, make them feel good, and make them feel good. The way he says things, I suppose he probably knows all those things. For me, it reads like, “Wow, that’s cool.”

As a host, what is the steepest learning curve?

Speaking Jeopardese, as we call it, is a learned skill. Not saying the same thing every time something is right, with each commercial break sounding slightly different, these are all challenges. I think the steepest learning curve is too [having] Someone in your ear. You are processing a lot of information in real time. When things go wrong, it’s tough because the error could mean they have to reset the entire board. The error can be a waste of time. There is a lot of pressure. It’s the high pressure job I do in the heels.

What are the most useful tips?

Coco [Corina Nusu] and john [Barra], who are contacts between the contenders, helped me a lot. They help me frame conversations with the runners and help keep morale up. I’m very hard on myself, and if I screw something up or if we have to redo something, I feel bad about the flow. But what Coco tells the contestants is, “If you make a mistake, get rid of it.” So that’s what I remind myself constantly.

Did you get any input that is less than helpful?

indeed. “Be yourself” is a tough piece of advice for anyone these days. It’s really, like, be yourself. But don’t do too much of this. Don’t do too much of it. Don’t stand like that. Make sure you are standing straight. Don’t be too sexy. Don’t be sexy. In general, this is the kind of thing I’ve needed a lot of practice for, and the only way to practice is to actually do shows. So I hope to get more natural, smoother, less stupid jokes – but I can’t guarantee that.

Which aspect of “Danger! The National College Championship” is the most exciting for you?

I think having young people – children, as I call them, because my children are about their age – brings a different energy to “danger”. This is definitely fun for us. “Jeopardy” is always fun, but there’s just something for 36 college students to get on their phones and be their adorable, generational selves. The categories are a little peppery and a little spicy. But it’s also a really beautiful representation of this country — kids of all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, colors, and sexual orientations from colleges that are Ivy Leagues, public colleges, and historically black colleges.

People indicated that for a fact-filled test program, information about “risk” is presented in a way that is difficult to retain. Do you feel like you are learning anything new?

Well, I still don’t really know where Lake Titicaca is. There are certainly some things that still stick in my mind, and after it airs, I will say to my children, This may have happened. But mostly, I can’t talk about that with anyone. I definitely keep things. Lots of information is things I didn’t know about in the first place, like 14th century French artists. It’s not something I thought I’d know about.

What might surprise audiences about the way ideas are shared or written?

Everything is written in “Jeopardy” font, even on pieces of paper for brainstorming. When they introduce something new, it’s always in that line.

Why does the “Gobardi” endure so long?

It’s a very simple show that celebrates the best of our intellectual abilities as human beings, and it’s a timeless show. Mastering objects and retaining information are skills we need as animals. The movie “Jeopardy” took advantage of that and found a way to encapsulate our highest level of intellectual capacity in an entertaining way that probably never goes out of style. I mean, I’m unemployed no matter what.

“Danger! The National College Championship” airs on ABC beginning February 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

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