Mayim Bialik Reflects on Mike Richards' Exit as Jeopardy! Host: 'I Don't Wish Ill on Him'
The Big Bang Theory alum and neuroscientist, 45, is currently hosting season 38 of the iconic game show alongside champion Ken Jennings, as Sony Pictures Television continues to search for a new permanent host to replace the late Alex Trebek.
Bialik first guest-hosted Jeopardy! in the spring and was later announced as the host of Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series.
She stepped into her current role as an interim host of the daily syndicated show last month when Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards left his post as the permanent host amid a series of controversies.
Bialik reflected on the hosting drama in a recent Newsweek article, recalling that "everything changed" when Richards' scandals surfaced and he stepped down.
"I think everyone who works with me will say that, as a person who has been acting since I was a kid, I go where I'm pointed and I do the job I'm told to do," she said. "I do what's in front of me. I don't really follow the news aspect of my industry too much."
Bialik continued, "That's how I approached what was going on. Of course I was in touch with Mike as he was my boss at that time, and I don't wish ill on him, or anyone. But the complexity of these situations is not something that can be summed up easily. My first response, when all of this went down, was to say to the Jeopardy! team: 'How can I help?' Because I am part of this family."
Sony announced on Aug. 11 that Richards, 46, had been selected as the new permanent host of Jeopardy!, about nine months after Trebek's death. Just over a week later, however, he told staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE that he was stepping down after disparaging comments he previously made about women and other marginalized groups resurfaced.
He apologized in a statement obtained by PEOPLE prior to the news of his exit, saying, "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."
Richards — who additionally previously faced allegations of workplace discrimination during his time at The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal — was then ousted as the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune later that month.
In her Newsweek article, Bialik said hosting season 38 has been "dreamy" so far.
"I feel very honored to have been given the responsibility and the opportunity to step up into this hosting position," the Call Me Kat star said. "It's been as dreamy as it was for the two days that I guest-hosted. I work very long days, but they fly by. We shoot five episodes a day and I get to meet fascinating people from all walks of life."
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She also reflected on the life and legacy of Trebek, saying, "It probably sounds crazy, but you definitely feel Alex's presence on that stage."
"As someone who didn't necessarily grow up with the constant presence of Alex in my living room, I feel him everywhere on that stage and I get to work with people who for decades worked so closely with him and whom he called friends," Bialik continued. "That's what feels really special."
"There will never be another Alex, on camera or off," she added. "It's important not to try and be him, because you can't, but as I learn more about him, I see how much he made his life an act of devotion to humanity. That's the legacy that I hold so dear as I go to work each day."
Jeopardy! airs weekdays (check local listings).