Ken Jennings will serve as the host of Jeopardy! as the long-running game show returns for its notably altered 40th season today, Sept. 11, Deadline reports.
Jennings is expected to handle the new season of the show solo instead of alternating dates with Mayim Bialik as they’ve been doing since Sept. 2021. Jennings will also host Celebrity Jeopardy! (Starting Sept. 27) by himself, fully taking over for Bialik, who typically hosts the special primetime events.
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Bialik notably left production on Jeopardy! back in May, near the end of Season 39, in solidarity with striking writers. It became further unlikely that she would return for Season 40 not just as the WGA strike continued but as actors joined them on the picket line with the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike in July.
Along with having Jennings alone at the helm, Season 40 of Jeopardy! will be tweaked in other ways due to the WGA strike. With no writers to come up with new questions for every game, the game show’s executive producer/showrunner, Michael Davies, said contestants would instead be asked a mix of questions the writers crafted before the strike began and questions from previous games.
Because of this, Jeopardy! also plans to only welcome back previous contestants this season. “I believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek stage, doing it with non-original material or… a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike,” Davies said on the Inside Jeopardy! podcast last month. “So we decided that really we needed to invite back and give a second chance in general to players who probably thought that their chance to come back and play on the Alex Trebek stage had gone forever. We’re going to open the season with a second chance tournament for players from Season 37 who lost their initial game, and winners from that will advance to a Season 37 and Season 38 Champions Wild Card.”
Jennings and Bialik have enjoyed a successful run as Jeopardy!’s alternating hosts, stabilizing the long-running game show after a surprisingly tumultuous effort to replace Alex Trebek. After Trebek died in Nov. 2020, the show spent its next season cycling through an array of guest hosts. At the end of the year, executive producer Mike Richards infamously chose himself to replace Trebek (with Bialik handling the spinoffs and primetime specials).
Richards quickly found himself under fire for allegations of pregnancy discrimination related to an old lawsuit and offensive comments made on a podcast between 2013 and 2014. He was quickly forced to step down as not only host but also executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, paving the way for Bialik and Jennings to take over.
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