Ken Jennings has had an emotional time hosting Jeopardy! Season 39 so far. He and his fellow host Mayim Bialik appeared on Good Morning America on Monday where they gave an update on the game show so far. Jennings revealed one emotional moment this year that brought him to tears – the return of the live audience.
Like most other TV and movie productions, Jeopardy! has undergone some serious changes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the death of long-time host Alex Trebek and the search for a new permanent host, the show has been filmed without a live studio audience to react to the show in real time. However, Jennings has been appearing on Jeopardy! for two decades, so he remembers it best with a crowd. He said that he was overcome with emotion the first time he saw those seats filled again.
"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."
This was Jennings and Bialik's first interview together since they were announced as the hosts of the entire season. The two split hosting duties last season after executive producer Mike Jennings stepped down, but most fans thought this was a temporary arrangement. The fact that they're both back this season caught many by surprise, and it indicates that this may be a long-term approach. Jennings and Bialik both felt that this was appropriate because neither one of them believes they can replace or "imitate" Trebek on their own.
"I think for both of us, we feel like we're really ushering in what Alex facilitated so beautifully, which is, again, highlighting contestants and the show that people know and love," Bialik said. "I think for me and Ken, we do love the purity and the fun Jeopardy has been and will continue to be."
"One of the nice things about having two hosts is the focus is a little less on who is the iconic host of Jeopardy! And it's really more about Jeopardy as a game," Jennings added. "Some nights it's gonna be me. Some nights it's gonna be Mayim. But it's always Jeopardy!"
Jeopardy! airs on weeknights at 7 p.m. ET in syndication. Check your local listings for the correct channel.