LeVar Burton’s campaign to host Jeopardy! dates back at least eight years. In 2013, the Reading Rainbow host and Star Trek: The Next Generation star tweeted about his zealous hope to one day stand behind the lectern on the famed quiz show.
“My dream job . . .? The new Host of #Jeopardy,” Mr Burton tweeted in 2013.
As of Wednesday, his dream is officially coming true – at least for a few days – thanks in part to a fierce push from fans to get him a spot as one of the celebrity guests who have lead the show since its revered host, Alex Trebek, died in November.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces the show, announced that Mr Burton, 64, would be among the final batch of hosts for the 37th season of Jeopardy! His episodes are set to air from 26 to 30 July.
“THANK YOU . . . to all y’all for your passionate support!” Mr Burton tweeted on Wednesday. “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting ‘Jeopardy!,’ and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me.”
Since the beginning of the year, the quiz show has brought on several well-known athletes, journalists and actors to lead the show. Past hosts include Katie Couric, NFL star Aaron Rodgers and Jeopardy! all-star Ken Jennings. Future guests include actress Mayim Bialik, sports announcer Joe Buck, Today Show host Savannah Guthrie and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
For about three decades, families invited Mr Burton into their homes as the host of Reading Rainbow, where he opened children’s minds to literature. He won 13 Emmys for the show during its run on PBS, which canceled the programme in 2009 after losing government funding. Mr Burton has also written two books – one for grown-ups and one for kids – and hosts a podcast called “LeVar Burton Reads.”
Last April, as the country shut down because of the coronavirus and people coped with isolation in their homes, Mr Burton began live-streaming a reading series three days a week on Twitter. Each day was devoted to either children, young adults or adults.
In the years since Reading Rainbow, Mr Burton has not been shy about his future ambitions to host Jeopardy!
“There is only one game show I’ve ever wanted to host . . . This Is Jeopardy!” he tweeted in 2018.
In November, a fan from Denver sent out a rallying cry to fellow Mr Burton enthusiasts to sign a petition addressed to the show’s producers.
“Between hosting 21 seasons of the educational Reading Rainbow, playing the brainiac engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: the Next Generation, and filling the roll of Kunta Kinte in the ever important miniseries Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds,” wrote Joshua Sanders, who created the petition.
Mr Burton shared the petition on Twitter and thanked his fans for their efforts.
“Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much how I appreciate all y’alls love and support!” he wrote. (Though, there’s still another petition for him to host the show that’s been floating around the Internet since 2013.)
The newer petition, which has over 247,000 signatures as of Wednesday, includes messages from fans explaining why Mr Burton is right for the job.
“Burton has been most instrumental in helping tell the most critical stories that make up America,” Rashad Smith wrote. “As this country deals with the portrayals and perceptions of black people ... the culture and communities across the Globe deserves a daily reminder from a black man in America who is a content and context expert.”
“LeVar has the same values and respect for education Alex had,” Melinda Major wrote. “He would carry on the proud legacy of Alex Trebek.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Burton said he credits the petition and his connections with fans on social media for helping him secure a spot on the show, according to the Associated Press.
“YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE!” Mr Burton tweeted, referring to his fans. “Go ahead and take my word for it, this time.”
The Washington Post
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