From Roots to his long stint in the Star Trek franchise across The Next Generation, Generations, First Contact, and more, LeVar Burton has cemented his legacy. A documentary on one of his most notable jobs, his 23 years as the host of Reading Rainbow, is in the making.
Butterfly in the Sky is the LeVar Burton documentary that is being developed by XTR. It is focusing on broadcasters, educators, filmmakers, and hosts who used television to help inspire young audiences to find a love for reading. So, of course, they had to get the Star Trek star to feature.
Reading Rainbow ran from 1983 to 2006 for 152 episodes. The documentary will take a deep dive into the show’s history and LeVar Burton as the host throughout its entire run. In addition, it will feature archive footage and interviews with people who have been attached to the series beyond the iconic host.
Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb, the directing duo who recently made the documentary Jasper Mall, will reunite to direct Butterfly in the Sky. Sidestilt Films will produce the LeVar Burton documentary with Bryan Storkel (Alabama Snake), XTR’s Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, and Kathryn Everett executive producing.
Brett Whitcomb cites Reading Rainbow as a major influence in his childhood. Seeing LeVar Burton host brought light to diverse cultures and the love for documentaries. Some of his favorite episodes that stick with him to this day include Hill of Fire and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush.
Co-director Bradford Tomason also chimes in on what made the show with LeVar Burton such an inspiration that has stuck with him into adulthood. While he grew up in Houston, Texas, he had plenty of diversity to see growing up. Reading Rainbow “reflected” his surroundings. Then when it came to book fairs for school, his first stop was always the Reading Rainbow section. As a huge reader, he cites the show for growing his passion for reading to this day.
While LeVar Burton had his biggest roles through the 70s to the 90s, his career still has lasting marks to this day. Outside of being in some of the most iconic entries of the Star Trek franchise across the big and small screens, he continues to work on new projects. In recent years, he has starred in Perception, Transformers: Rescue Bots, and Weird City. His stardom makes for a great cameo once and a while too as he has made brief appearances in NCIS: New Orleans, The Big Bang Theory, Community, and Adventure Time. Earlier this year, he temporarily hosted Jeopardy.
Across the decades, LeVar Burton has been nominated for three Emmies. He was nominated in 1977 for Roots, which kickstarted his career into high gear. Fast forward to 1996 where Reading Rainbow was nominated. Then go closer to the present with 2016 as the remake of Roots that starred Herbert Cavalier Jr. (Scream: The TV Series), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Vikings), Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Babs Olusanmokun (Wrath of Man), and Lawrence Fishburne (John Wick: Chapter 2, Chapter 3).