Ken Jennings as the host of “Jeopardy!” “You realize hosting’s even harder because you basically have to do everything the contestants do, plus manage the game for them, plus manage the game for the home viewer,” Jennings recently said on “Good Morning America.”
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With 74 consecutive “Jeopardy!” wins under his belt, Ken Jennings figured he’d have a leg up when it came to hosting the quiz show.
That assumption quickly fell apart as he took his place behind the hosting lectern, where late host Alex Trebek had stood for 36 years. Turns out being a contestant did not actually prepare one for hosting.
“You realize hosting’s even harder because you basically have to do everything the contestants do, plus manage the game for them, plus manage the game for the home viewer,” Jennings recently said on “Good Morning America.”
“And not make faces,” Mayim Bialik, Jennings’ “Jeopardy!” co-host, added.
The “Jeopardy!” hosts — who earlier this year became Trebek’s official successors — participated in a joint interview on “Good Morning America” and talked about moving the show forward in a post-Trebek era.
Nearly two years after Trebek’s death, the late host’s influence is still felt constantly on the “Jeopardy!” set.
“I feel like Alex’s presence is here, and it is,” Bialik said, per Yahoo! Entertainment. “It’s in the words that we heard him say for so many decades. But I think also, like, wanting to more kind of imitate the feeling that he created on the stage for the contestants and for the audience.”
As hosts, Bialik said she and Jennings believe their main job is to continue what Trebek “facilitated so beautifully … highlighting contestants and the show that people know and love,” “Good Morning America” reported.
“We miss Alex every day. But luckily, it still feels like ‘Jeopardy!’” Jennings added. “The people here are so good at their jobs. They kept the continuity.”
Jennings noted that having two “Jeopardy!” hosts has helped take the pressure off a bit when it comes to filling Trebek’s shoes.
“The focus is a little less on who is the iconic host of ‘Jeopardy!’ And it’s really more about ‘Jeopardy!’ as a game,” he told “Good Morning America.” “Some nights it’s gonna be me. Some nights it’s gonna be Mayim. But it’s always ‘Jeopardy!’”
Jennings also shared with “Good Morning America” his emotional return to “Jeopardy!” at the start of the new season, which premiered last month. It marked the first time in 2.5 years — since the start of the pandemic — that the quiz show had a live studio audience, and Jennings wasn’t prepared for what that moment would feel like.
“That first game of this season, I walked out and people just went bonkers and I just started to cry,” he said. “This game means so much to people. And there was just this visceral wave of love and energy. I’ll be thinking about that for the rest of my life.”
The “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” champion previously talked about that moment on an episode of the podcast “Inside Jeopardy!,” sharing that he was so moved by the excitement from the audience that he forgot what he was going to say.
“I had to come out and do my opening again because I was so touched,” he said, per the Deseret News.
Jennings is currently hosting “Jeopardy!” through December, the Deseret News reported. Bialik will then take over as host in January. The actress is currently hosting the 2022 edition of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” which airs Sundays on ABC.
Although they don’t share screen time on “Jeopardy!,” the hosts recently appeared together in the Season 3 premiere of Bialik’s sitcom, “Call Me Kat,” the Deseret News reported.
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