LeVar Burton Set To Host One Of The Biggest National Competitions

LeVar Burton is beloved by all, and even though he didn't land hosting duties for Jeopardy!, he has been tasked with hosting one of the biggest competitions in the world.

By Britta DeVore | Published

levar burton
LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 7: “The Toast Derivation” — When the gang starts hanging out at Raj’s, Sheldon decides to get a new group of friends, including guest star LeVar Burton (pictured), on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 24 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

LeVar Burton is returning to his quest to make the world a smarter place. The actor and host of Reading Rainbow has jotted his name down to take on the role of the emcee of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Losing more and more viewers over the years, the move to bring Burton on board was part of the Bee’s redesign from its producers. Along with the competition’s new host, the production plans to shine a light on the backgrounds of each of the challengers to give audiences a more in-depth look into their lives and how they got to be facing off against the best of the best in spelling. The folks at Scripps will now be able to craft the Bee to their liking as this will be the first time in a long time the broadcast rights were not owned by another company such as Disney or ESPN. It’s with this new freedom that they hope to mold the annual spelling match into something more suitable for the masses. 

LeVar Burton will be joining a production that has been around for almost 100 years. It all began in 1925 when the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky brought in a crew of local spelling geniuses to face off against one another. An instant hit, Scripps would gain the rights to the piece in 1941 making it a country-wide phenomenon. Through dedication to the craft and efforts put forth by the game’s competitors, the Bee has gone off without a hitch every year except in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and the war-torn years of World War II between 1943 and 1945. It’s with this track record that Scripps hopes viewers will begin to tune back in for the American tradition this summer. 

First making moves in the entertainment industry by playing the role of Kunta Kintein in ABC’s production of Roots back in 1977, LeVar Burton is well known for his time working for Starfleet on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Geordi La Forge. Already a household name for his tenure on Reading Rainbow, Burton would rise to even more cultural significance during his time aboard the Starship Enterprise. 

Reading Rainbow would see him educating the youngsters of America through stories, history, and pop music. Each week there would be a new celebrity guest star who would join Burton on his text-based travels. The series would run for over 23 years and would earn LeVar Burton 12 Daytime Emmy Awards for his time serving as a host and executive producer. A Grammy Award winner for his narration work behind the book The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., Burton has never slowed down over the years. Prior to the announcement of his Spelling Bee takeover, Burton was in the running to become the next host of the quiz game show, Jeopardy!, but it didn’t pan out. 

But Jeopardy!’s loss is the Bee’s win as LeVar Burton’s involvement will definitely help drive up viewership. With such a long and successful career, Burton was the perfect choice to stand at the helm of the spelling showdown. You can see Burton and the contestants in action beginning on June 1, at 8 p.m. on Scripps’ free streaming platforms as well as the ION broadcast network and the Bounce TV digital-cable outlet.