‘Jeopardy!’: Mayim Bialik Reveals Why the Show Has to Sometimes ‘Shut Down’

Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings have been tag-teaming guest-hosting duties on Jeopardy! during season 38. The Call Me Kat star previously spoke of some behind-the-scenes details of the iconic game show and recently revealed why they sometimes have to stop filming.

Mayim Bialik of 'Jeopardy!'
Mayim Bialik of ‘Jeopardy!’ | Casey Durkin/ABC via Getty Images

‘Jeopardy!’ has a lawyer on set

Jeopardy! viewers have sometimes witnessed a contestant giving an answer that may be close enough to accept but requires further investigation. Bialik explained that the trivia game will literally stop in these instances until the matter is resolved.

“We sometimes shut down for close to an hour over one decision,” Bialik said on the Wild Ride! with Steve-O podcast. “You don’t see that. Any episode where we correct someone’s score, like ‘The judges have ruled that mahogany is also an acceptable tree that begins with M’ or whatever it is, that usually means we’ve shut down for like an hour.”

Bialik pointed out that such circumstances can “change the course of the game,” so Jeopardy! producers have a formal process in place.

“There’s a lawyer on set all day,” the Jeopardy! star remarked. “A lawyer from standards and practices,” she revealed. “Imagine going to law school, and you get placed sitting on Jeopardy! They just sit and make sure that everything’s kosher.”

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Mayim Bialik has a light at the ‘Jeopardy!’ podium

Bialik is prepped with alternate responses to clues that would be deemed as correct or if she needs to ask a contestant for more clarification.

“So, for certain things, they’ll already list other acceptable answers, for things where a couple answers are acceptable, or they’ll make a note, if like, ‘Oh, if they say this, they need to be more specific,’” The Big Bang Theory alum said, according to Today.com. “So, I’m like learning those things.”

When Bialik isn’t sure how to determine an answer, she gets some help from producers thanks to a prop at the podium.

“But sometimes, they’ll come up with something, and I’m just like, ‘I don’t know,’” Bialik shared. “And so, yeah, I have a light that turns green if it’s a go and if turns red if it’s not.”

‘Jeopardy!’ hosting gig is ‘not easy work’

While Bialik has openly expressed her hopes of being named Jeopardy!‘s permanent host, she acknowledged the challenges of the job.

“These are long days,” she told Glamour of the rigorous schedule. “These are not easy days. You need to think on your feet; you need to pronounce words in the Navajo language, which is not something I had ever done before. Learning to name the lakes of Africa. I’m literally being asked to squeeze my brain. It’s not easy work. But there was something really special that I felt there, and I can’t explain it.”

The Emmy-nominated actor focuses on moderating the quiz board with precision and consistency while avoiding any missteps that could take attention away from the game.

It’s my job to be as seamless as possible and not be noticeable,” Bialik said. “Whether that’s the pattern of my blazer or the number of mistakes that I make that we need to do pickups for—that’s what kind of job this is.”

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