‘Jeopardy!’ team never considered LeVar Burton as permanent host: report
TMZ reported its sources say Sony Studios executives loved Burton, yet didn't think he was a "right fit."
In an unsurprising report, TMZ confirmed via sources inside the production team at Jeopardy! that viewer favorite LeVar Burton was never given serious consideration for the role as the host of the iconic game show.
TMZ notes that Sony Studios executives loved Burton, yet didn’t think he was a “right fit.” They said they did speak to him about other projects outside of the syndicated quiz show, roles for which he’s reportedly still being considered.
More than 272,000 people have signed a Change.org petition, created last fall, to make Burton the next host of Jeopardy!
“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 role 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 reads.
“This petition is to show Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and producers Mike Richards and Harry Friedman just how much love the public has for Burton,” it continues, “and how much we’d all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!”
The petition and the subsequent press created an online clamor, and Burton was granted a short trial as a guest host, which garnered mostly positive reviews, especially from fans of his previous projects.
Other networks and executives are looking to capitalize on Burton’s wave to create new projects for the actor. Director Ava DuVernay tweeted on Aug. 11, “Me trying to create a show right in this moment for @levarburton to host and make an international hit.” He replied, “Check your DM’s!”
The search for a new host of Jeopardy! after the November 2020 death of longtime host Alex Trebek has been mired in controversy.
Executive producer Richards stepped down this week after a scathing report from The Ringer, which alleged that he manipulated the process in his own favor. He recently apologized for resurfaced comments he made about women’s bodies, plus Jewish and Asian people. Models on The Price Is Right filed discrimination lawsuits against him when he was on staff there.
As previously reported, a video interview with Trebek in 2018 resurfaced in which, in addition to two other candidates, he named CNN legal analyst Laura Coates as a potential replacement host.
The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik has been named as an interim host of Jeopardy! and will take the podium this week. She is slated to record 15 episodes before guest hosts step in as the search for a permanent replacement for Trebek continues.