To use a corny stereotype: if you look up TV treasure in the dictionary, you’ll probably see a picture of LeVar Burton. The Star Trek: The Next Generation vet isn’t only a legend to genre fans, but also to millions of former children who grew up loving Reading Rainbow. (That, on top of dozens of other TV and film roles.) As such, he seemed like as perfect a choice as any to take over Jeopardy!’s hosting job during the height of that ill-handled debacle tied to former EP Mike Richards. He didn’t get the gig — no one officially has, more than seven months later — and while he has been flush with projects in the aftermath, it sounds like he’s still got a noteworthy chip on his shoulder about it.
Just ahead of LeVar Burton taking the stage as host of the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee, and far ahead of his return to outer space for Star Trek: Picard Season 3, the well-spoken actor and producer spoke with Newsy about the residual emotions still within him this far removed from the Jeopardy! process. Even if he could eventually appreciate the way things turned out, with Burton taking on hosting duties for the syndicated Trivial Pursuit game show reboot, he said he was totally wrecked at the time. In his words:
There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance, but I think we can all agree that LeVar Burton fell more on the “confident” side of things, given his fanbase, his know-how, and his relaxed demeanor behind the Jeopardy! lectern. Granted, not everyone was into his efforts (which he was fully aware of), but enough people were, including former champions, that he clearly thought he had a straight shot to the top of the applicant chart, as it were.
LeVar Burton certainly doesn’t sound like he thinks Jeopardy!’s hosting situation is a purely objective and democratic process, either. To the point where he calls it a “fix,” saying:
As bothered as he might be by how Jeopardy! shunned him, LeVar Burton has come to accept that losing out on that one job has made way for other opportunities that he likely wouldn’t have been able to accept had he been saddled with a full-time gig hosting the syndicated hit.
I gotta say, any silver lining such as “landing a variety of TV jobs that included a return to the NCIS-verse” is about as good as it gets, so hopefully LeVar Burton can go into each of his new opportunities with all the confidence and happiness that’s deserved. I also hope that Jeopardy! makes the best decision possible when the new permanent host is announced in the near future, but that’ll be a judgment call either way.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.