In a move that further drags out the unexpectedly fraught search for Alex Trebek’s successor, Sony Pictures Television announced Thursday that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will be splitting “Jeopardy!” hosting duties through the end of the year. The decision arrives nearly four weeks after former executive producer Mike Richards stepped down as host due to widespread controversy about offensive comments he had made in previous years.

In a news release, Sony stated that Bialik — previously slated to host prime-time specials and spin-offs, with Richards as the daily syndicated program’s full-time host — will host episodes airing through Nov. 5. After that date, she and Jennings will share the gig.

Sony confirmed to The Washington Post that Bialik will still host the additional programming.

Actress Mayim Bialik and former champion Ken Jennings will host "Jeopardy!" through 2021. It's unclear who will permanently fill Alex Trebek's former role. (Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

The process of finding a successor to Trebek, the longtime host who died last year of pancreatic cancer, has lasted longer than one might have expected. Following months of speculation, Variety reported in early August that Richards, who was bumped up to executive producer after Harry Friedman’s 25-year run, was the front-runner to replace Trebek — sparking anger online from fans who had rallied behind guest hosts Bialik, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton.

As The Post previously reported, an article from nearly a decade ago began to circulate on social media in response to the rumblings that Richards had been among the producers named in a sexual harassment lawsuit from Lanisha Cole, a former “Price Is Right” model who said she was wrongfully terminated from the game show. Richards was dismissed as a defendant before the case was settled, but was also named in another “Price Is Right” lawsuit from model Brandi Cochran, who claimed producers discriminated against her when she got pregnant.

Sony nevertheless stuck to its rumored decision, announcing the arrangement with Richards and Bialik a week after Variety’s report. After another week, Ringer reporter Claire McNear, who has written about the history of “Jeopardy!," published an extensive article about Richards’s former podcast “The Randumb Show,” on which he made offensive comments about women, Jewish people and Haiti.

Richards apologized publicly — describing it as “humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago” — but the backlash remained. He stepped down as host within a few days. Less than two weeks later, “Jeopardy!” (and “Wheel of Fortune,” on which he also worked) severed ties with Richards as an executive producer, as well.

Bialik, a neuroscientist and actress who appeared on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” stepped in as quizmaster after Richards’s exit. She and Jennings have guest-hosted the show, though neither is without their own baggage, regarding Bialik’s past comments on vaccines and Jennings’s tweets that reportedly cost him the hosting gig during the initial vetting process.

Sharing the latest news on Twitter, the “Jeopardy!” account described the show’s staff as “supralunar.”

Emily Yahr contributed to this report.

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