The death of long-time Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek this past Sunday saddened his millions of trivia-loving fans. While Trebek had been very open about his struggle with pancreatic cancer since receiving the diagnosis in 2019, and had joked about having Betty White replace him as host, viewers who'd been watching him on the show for 35 years didn't want to think of the show without him. Now that we know his final episode will air next month, on Christmas Day, fans have been considering their options, and many have decided they want a Star Trek veteran to host the show: LeVar Burton.
Jeopardy! fan Joshua Sanders started a Change.org petition, which he organized to the attention of Sony Pictures Entertainment (the production company behind the quiz show), and executive producers Harry Friedman and Mike Richards, to have LeVar Burton take over as host. Burton, of course, has his own long history in the entertainment industry and is beloved to many for his time playing Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation for seven seasons, along with starring in the four movies which featured the cast.
This might seem like a left-of-field choice to those who only know LeVar Burton as an actor, but as the petition points out, there are millions of people (and several generations) to whom he also endeared himself, especially from the 1980s through 1990s. Beginning in 1983, after his worldwide success as the star of the massive hit TV miniseries Roots, Burton became the host and executive producer of the PBS series Reading Rainbow. The show lasted for 21 seasons, garnering an amazing 200 plus broadcast awards for its long run, which include a Peabody and 26 Emmys (11 for Outstanding Children's Series, and two wins for Burton as host).
Here's what the petition had to say about LeVar Burton's merits as a potential new Jeopardy! host:
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. 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, and how much we'd all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!
The petition was originally looking to get to 25,000 signatures, but they've already blown past that milestone and (at the time of this writing) there were already a little over 26,800 people on board. Even better, many of them echoed the sentiments about what LeVar Burton has meant to them during his career.
So, is Burton being thrust into this role unfairly by those who love Jeopardy! and his many fans? Or, is he also intrigued by this potential opportunity? Let's take a look at his response to the petition on Twitter to find out the answer, shall we?
Awww! You guys! It sounds like LeVar Burton would actually like to be our new Jeopardy! host. Who knows if those behind the game show will take the opinions of all the people who signed the petition into account when scouting someone to replace Alex Trebek, but it does seem like they'd be able to start with a fan-favorite if they convinced Burton to take the job.
While we wait to see if LeVar Burton will, in fact, step in to host Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek's final 35 episodes will air through December 25, so be sure to check your local listings for times.