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Controversy has been swirling around Jeopardy! for the past couple of months when it comes to the replacement for late host Alex Trebek. In August, then-executive producer Mike Richards was named the new host, but soon left the show after lawsuits and offensive comments from his past resurfaced. But, he isn't the only person involved with the show who has faced backlash. Actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik has made comments about vaccines that have caused fans of the show to speak out against her hiring as the host of Jeopardy! specials. She's also continued to face criticism for an essay she wrote in light of the sexual assault claims against Harvey Weinstein.
At the same time that Richards was named the permanent host, Bialik was named the new host of Jeopardy! primetime specials. Following Richards' departure, it was also announced that she would be a temporary host of the daily Jeopardy! show along with former champion Ken Jennings while the search for a permanent solution continues. In light of this news, Bialik has spoken out about the Jeopardy! controversy as a whole and about her vaccine comments.
Bialik said her children weren't vaccinated in her 2012 book.
In 2012, Bialik published a book about attachment parenting titled Beyond the Sling. In it, she shared that her children, who were around seven and four at the time, had not received vaccinations. "We made an informed decision not to vaccinate our children," she wrote, "but this is a very personal decision that should be made only after sufficient research, which today is within reach of every parent who seeks to learn about their child's health regardless of their medical knowledge or educational status."
She also wrote about her thoughts on vaccines in a 2012 piece for Kveller, in which she also suggested reading materials for those looking to make a decision about vaccinating their children, including the CDC website and two books.
Bialik has since said that her kids are vaccinated.
In 2015, Bialik tweeted in response to criticism that she was a part of the movement encouraging vaccine distrust among mothers. She wrote, "dispelling rumors abt my stance on vaccines. i'm not anti. my kids are vaccinated. so much anger and hysteria. i hope this clears things up."
In 2020, she again talked about her opinion of vaccines in a YouTube video saying, "I have never not once said that vaccines are not valuable, not useful, or not necessary, because they are." She added that her kids had received vaccines, though not necessarily all of the same ones that viewers' kids had. "I delayed vaccinations for reasons that you don't necessarily get to know about simply because you follow me on social media," the actor stated. She then mentioned reasons people might delay vaccines such as allergies and compromised immune systems. In this video, she also expressed that she thinks today's children "get way too many vaccines" in the U.S. She also said she would be getting the COVID vaccine and a flu shot.
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In a new interview, she said she did not regret the comments she made in her book.
Speaking to ABC News in a Sept. 23 interview, Bialik said that she doesn't regret writing what she did about vaccines. "I don't regret that at the time I wrote a book about parenting, my kids were young, they hadn't received all their vaccines," she said. "Now I've been very public and declared that I am a vaccinated person, we're a vaccinated family, we're all vaccinated for COVID. That's part of the challenge of being a public person, and the court of public opinion is extremely significant."
She also commented on "untrue" things being written about her.
In an interview with Glamour, also from September, Bialik said that part of why the Jeopardy! hosting controversy being in the news was stressful for her was because "there were a lot of untrue things said about me." Asked to clarify, she said, "Just people casting aspersions on my vaccine status, which I've been completely open about—my children being vaccinated, us all being vaccinated against COVID. Things like that."
She wants to host Jeopardy! full-time.
While she is still the new host for Jeopardy! specials, Bialik will also host the regular show through the end of the year, switching off with Jennings. But, she'd like to have the gig full-time after falling in love with the job while guest hosting earlier this year. "It was the best job I had ever had, besides being a parent," she wrote in a piece for Newsweek in September. "I can now say that there is no other job I'd rather have than this job on Jeopardy!."