TV star Mayim Bialik made her first public statement about walking out of hosting Jeopardy!.
Co-host Ken Jennings replaced the actress on Jeopardy! and Celebrity Jeopardy this season as he stands alongside Hollywood’s striking actors and writers.
Mayim, 47, spoke to Vanity Fair on Friday in her first major interview in months.
The interview came after the WGA finally made a deal for better royalties and protection against AI (among other questions) with studio execs.
The actress has been off screen since May and is completely off board for the new season of Jeopardy!, which began earlier this month.
Mayim revealed: “There are many complexities to it, but my general statement has always been that I come from a union family.
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“My grandparents were immigrants who worked in sweatshops, and my parents were public school teachers.
“While it is not for me to personally judge the decision of others, for me, I am a supporter of the union – almost all unions and what they fight for.
“I believe in that system even though it’s not perfect. I believe in educating why people strike and what they’re aiming for.”
The outlet praised Mayim as “among the first celebrities to show an open stance by refusing to host the new season of Jeopardy until the writers get a fair deal.”
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The monumental Season 40 of Jeopardy! premiered on September 11 and will run until July 26, 2024.
Ken hosted alone in a big change, and his co-host Mayim, 47, was not involved.
Mayim initially backed out of airing the final week of Jeopardy! Season 39 was back in May when the Writers Guild of America was on strike.
After the Screen Actors Guild strike two months later, it was speculated that Ken would become the sole host of all things Jeopardy! – which is what happened.
The former Blossom star is a member of the striking actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA.
A source earlier told The Messenger that Mayim may not be back until the new year, if not later.
“He was not fired,” the source shared.
“He chose to stand with his union, and because of that, he was told that he might not be back for the rest of the year, even if the strike was resolved before then.”
WHEN: MAYIM COME BACK?
Mayim will probably be off the screen longer than the new year.
The schedule for the nightly Jeopardy! set in stone until December 18th, with Ken hosting past player tournaments (with past questions given by striking writers).
The annual Tournament of Champions – postponed after several Season 39 champions, including Ray LaLonde, Cris, Hannah Wilson, and Ben, boycotted until the strikes ended – is expected to air starting on December 19.
Since Mayim doesn’t host the annual TOC, he may not be back until after the tournaments- which could be as late as March.
He won’t be back until the new contestants come back, which could be until March.
Meanwhile, Ken faced backlash from some fans and former players for his decision to cross the picket line.
Ken has remained silent on the matter apart from re-sharing a statement from the show’s executive producer that referenced how the late Alex continued to host during the 2007 to 2008 strike of the writer.
Mayim was also replaced by Ken on Celebrity Jeopardy!, which began airing weekly on ABC on Wednesday for its entire second season.
The change is especially significant since he hosted Season 1 of the revamped special last year.
Mayim’s exit marks Ken’s first time hosting all of Jeopardy!, a big change since they had to split hosting duties following the death of legendary longtime host Alex Trebek.
‘NO threat! NO WRITERS’
The Writers Guild of America announced on May 1 that it was going on strike after weeks of talks with Netflix, Amazon, Sony (Jeopardy’s parent company!), and Disney fell through.
Picket lines gathered the next day as writers protested their contracts and pay – since SAG-AFTRA joined in and put all Hollywood projects in question into existence.
Head writers Billy Wisse and Michelle Loud recently told Variety: “Our words are on the screen every night.
“There would be no ‘Jeopardy’ without the writers. Without us, it’s just an empty blue screen.”
“They ask some people to work every day,” another Jeopardy! says the writer – supporting those who go through the experiences of the mini-room even of the small staff to write movies on the streaming platform.
“They never tried to make it a gig economy before,” Billy Wisse said. “There’s always a sense that the writers are in it.”
Writers stand in front of Sony Pictures Studios when Jeopardy! returned to taping in August, causing Ken to reportedly drive through the back entrance to keep protesters out.