Jeopardy! Twist: Mayim Bialik to 'Split' Hosting Duties With EP Mike Richards

Jeopardy! will have not one but two permanent hosts. Sorta.

Sony Pictures Television announced Wednesday that Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards will succeed the late Alex Trebek as host the long-running daily syndicated game show, with Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik presiding over primetime and spin-off specials, including the just announced Jeopardy! National College Championship.

The news comes just days after Richards confirmed reports that he was in talks for the emcee job. He also weighed in on the controversy surrounding those recently resurfaced 2010 pregnancy discrimination lawsuits from his time as an EP on The Price Is Right.

Richards and Bialik were among the dozen-plus guest hosts who passed through Jeopardy! over the past seven months. Both of their stints were well-received by critics and fans alike, with TVLine readers regularly choosing them as their second and third-most wanted full-time emcees.

Despite getting passed over for the gig, Ken Jennings — who was initially pegged as the frontrunner for the hosting job — will stay on as a Jeopardy! consulting producer.

Richards’ tenure will kick off with the game show’s Season 38 premiere on Sept. 13.

“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s Favorite Quiz Show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of Jeopardy!,” said Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures in a statement “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show – deservedly so because it’s Jeopardy! and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and Jeopardy! viewers.

“We knew early on that we wanted to divide the hosting responsibilities and it became very clear that Mike and Mayim were the undeniable choices,” Ahuja added. “They were both at the top of our research and analysis. Mike is a unique talent, at ease behind the podium and a double threat as producer and host. Mayim has a wonderful energy, an innate sense of the game, and an authentic curiosity that naturally represents the Jeopardy! brand. We are excited to get to work with them both and are confident that they will carry on the legacy of this iconic show.”

In his own statement, Richards said, “I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude. I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show. I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love. I am thrilled that Mayim is joining the Jeopardy! team. Her academic track record and enthusiasm for the game made her a terrific guest host. It will be a privilege to produce the primetime series with her as host.”

Meanwhile, Bialik — who currently headlines the Fox sitcom Call Me Kat, which is heading into its second season — said she “couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” adding, “What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I’m so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I’m just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we’ve had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!”