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Behind the scenes of “Jeopardy!” with Mayim Bialik

I watched “Jeopardy!” My whole life. My mom put it on every night when I was growing up, and we watched it and answered questions together. I got most of the answers wrong. God forbid, I would forget to formulate my answer in the form of a question. It’s a serious misstep in the world of “Jeopardy!”

When I went to college, instead of putting me in a dorm, my mom bought a house near my campus where I would live. All she had to do was find me a roommate. She placed an ad on Craigslist, and on the first day I met my new roommate Arthur, a shy 22-year-old with thick-rimmed glasses who went to a prestigious college nearby.

Years later, Arthur was popping up all over the news. Turns out he had won “Jeopardy!” And he was also probably the most hated contestant in the show’s history. Yes, he was that Arthur: Arthur Chu, the infamous “Jeopardy!” villain who aggressively jumped on all counts and earned nearly $300,000 on the show.

I laughed it off with Mayim Bialik on a recent Sunday in her dressing room at “Celebrity Jeopardy!” I had just watched two tapings of the show featuring celebrities Aisha Tyler, John Michael Higgins, Hasan Minhaj and Matt Rogers.

Mayim, who had to film four episodes that day, was her usual, professional self. He’s a down-to-earth, kind-hearted superstar who earned his “Jeopardy!” organize a concert in the most fun way.

“My son saw a post on social media that ‘Jeopardy!’ was looking for guest hosts,” she said. “He said, ‘Mom, you should be the host.’ I said, ‘That’s not going to happen’, but I asked my agent, and of course they called me. It was really crazy. My child was right.

Mayim, who worked with Alex Trebek when he appeared on a 1995 episode of her show, “Blossom,” tries to answer the questions in her head as she hosts. “I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, but a lot of my mistakes come from how fast the series is and how quickly you have to make decisions,” she said.

During one of the taped episodes, a contestant failed to formulate his answer in the form of one question – a classic mistake, and one I made many times growing up. Unlike when I was a kid, however, I got almost all the answers right, so I decided the producers must have written easier questions for celebrities.

While Mayim would love to compete on “Jeopardy!” for real, she’s nervous about her performance. “There are certain categories that I feel more comfortable with than others,” she said. But I’m doing ‘Celebrity Wheel of Fortune’ for charity.

Jewish questions seem to arise over “Jeopardy!” from time to time. Last fall, Mayim recalls, there was a question in the “Sabbath” category about cooking cholent: “Exodus 35:3 forbids doing this on the Sabbath, hence the Jewish dish ‘cholent’, which can go on the stove on Friday and cook until noon Saturday.” Both candidates got the answer wrong; one said, “What’s cooking?” and the other said, “What is work?” The correct answer was “What is ‘lighting a fire’?”

Although Mayim is an observant Jew, she does not write the questions. When I was taping, another Jewish issue came up, and it led to a whispered argument between audience members during the commercial break.

“That’s the wrong answer,” said a man in front of me.

“Yes, it was,” a nearby woman quickly replied. “I went to Hebrew day school.”

“I am Orthodox. Do you need me to call my rabbi? I say trying to lighten the mood.

Of course it happened, I thought. In Jewish culture, we question everything! Then I thought: we are actually perfect candidates for “Jeopardy!”

Mayim is deeply committed to her religion and culture and is a proud online Jew, which is becoming increasingly important these days. Recently, she posted herself building her sukkah, and she frequently wishes her followers “Shabbat Shalom” and tells them when she goes offline for the holidays or Shabbat.

“Shabbat is my only guaranteed quiet time,” she said.

On the Jewish New Year, Mayim begins to sing Torah in her synagogue, something she has been doing during the major holidays. When she’s not hosting special episodes of “Jeopardy!” she stars in her own sitcom, “Call Me Kat,” and records her podcast, “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown,” where she talks about mental health. She also spends as much time as possible with her two teenagers.

“It’s been an interesting and eventful fall,” she said. “My children take weekend trips, but I try to rest as much as possible.”

The danger ! hosting a concert is perfect for Mayim, a neuroscientist whose family has always emphasized learning.

“I was brought up with a love of information and a love of knowledge.” – Mayim Bialik

“I was brought up with a love of information and a love of knowledge,” Mayim said. “My mother’s parents never really spoke English and never drove a car. I come from a family where there has been a big shift in embracing learning. So to me, that feels very consistent with a lot of what I do at “Jeopardy!” I learn things and I help others learn things.

To this, I replied: “All the questions remind me Gemara. You answer a question with a question.

Mayim laughed. “It’s true. It’s true. It’s a very halachically angled format.



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