Levar Burton to guest-host ‘Jeopardy!’ following social media campaign
"I will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me."
LeVar Burton has scored a Jeopardy! guest host spot after fans lobbied for him to be added to the pool of celebrities filling in for the late Alex Trebek.
Burton fans launched a Change.org petition in November calling for the actor to take over as host of NBC’s long-running game show following Trebek’s passing that same month after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Trebek presided over the beloved quiz show for more than 30 years before his death at age 80.
Read More: Fans push for LeVar Burton to host Jeopardy
Burton is best known for hosting the PBS classic Reading Rainbow, as well appearing in the Star Trek franchise and starring in the classic TV drama Roots. Per Variety, the petition demanding that Jeopardy! producers tap him as the new host racked up 246,000 signatures.
“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 mini-series Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds,” the petition states. “This petition is to show Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and producer Harry Friedman just how much love the public has for Burton, and how much we’d all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!”
Burton shared the link to the petition on his Twitter page, writing “Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much I appreciate all y’alls love and support!”
After it was announced on Wednesday (April 21) that Burton will take over Jeopardy! for a few episodes, the Hollywood veteran took to Twitter to express his excitement and thank fans for their “passionate support.”
“THANK YOU… to all y’all for your passionate support!” Burton tweeted. “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. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time.”
Jeopardy!’s official Twitter account shared the news, which prompted fans to suggest that Burton be made the permanent new host of Jeopardy! One comment underneath the announcement said: “This is step 1. Step 2 is @levarburton becomes permanent host. Step 3 – which is guaranteed, is that interest in Jeopardy surges, new and diverse viewers tune in, and the show takes a bow for making the wisest possible move it could ever make. Mark my words!”
Another Twitter user added, “Let us know who’s hosting which episodes so I can skip the ones that aren’t LeVar Burton.”
A third wrote, “Let’s just skip to LeVar Burton and argue over him or Ken Jennings as the permanent replacement.”
“Our goal has been to present a wide variety of guest hosts with different skill sets and backgrounds on our path to finding a permanent host,” said “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards. “Our passionate fans are telling us what they like, and we are listening. All of the guest hosts have brought individualism, energy and an authentic love of our show to each of their episodes. We look forward to sharing the rest of the season with our viewers.”
Jeopardy! fan-favorite Ken Jennings was the first to guest host the series for season 37, followed by Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Mayim Bialik, Dr. Oz, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Aaron Rodgers. In addition to Burton, the final guest hosts this season include Good Morning America anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, former Jeopardy! champ David Faber and sportscaster Joe Buck.
The show’s Tournament of Champions in May will be hosted by Jeopardy! all-star Buzzy Cohen.
Jeopardy! debuted on NBC in 1964 with Art Fleming as emcee and was an immediate hit. It lasted until 1975, then was revived in syndication with Trebek.
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