It has been reported that “Roots” star LeVar Burton will be guest-hosting the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!” This opportunity did not manifest through luck: the 64-year-old actor, best known for his many years on the classic children’s show “Reading Rainbow” and for playing “Geordi La Forge” on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” lobbied via a social media campaign for the spot on the show.
250,000 people signed a petition expressing their support and excitement to see Burton host the show, which has been a long-time personal goal for the actor. He decided he would work hard to attain host Alex Trebek’s spot after the host alluded to leaving while re-negotiating his contract some years ago. Burton recently told Black News Channel, “I said then, ‘I’ve had my eye on that job for a long time. And that when Alex is ready to give it up, I want to stand behind that podium.’”
Trebek died last year; since then, the show has been inviting myriad journalists and prominent Hollywood stars to host the show weekly, such as actress and author Mayim Bialik and “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker.
Burton worked hard and gained the traction that he needed, moving the “Jeopardy!” producers to offer him a week-long guest host gig from July 26-30 of this year. “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!” Burton expressed on Twitter.
Claire McNear, who wrote the book, “Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy!” told NPR, “You want somebody who projects that sort of gravitas, that academic air to them that Trebek, of course, had. And so I think that’s why a lot of people have been really clamoring for LeVar Burton.”
Things worked out for the beloved actor; while he still hopes to be the permanent host of the game show, this step is an important trajectory in the right direction.