“Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge to the Jeopardy! bridge, please.” Ask and ye shall receive. The social media outpour was massive, and Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards and the rest of his crew have listened. Reading Rainbow and Star Trek star LeVar Burton has just been added to the final grouping of guest hosts who together will bring to a close the long-time running series’ 37th season.
This bittersweet end comes in the wake of the tragic death of Jeopardy fan’s beloved longtime host, Alex Trebek, who passed away last November after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Richards touched on not just bringing in Burton, but a slew of other guest hosts. “Our goal has been to present a wide variety of guest hosts with different skill sets and backgrounds on our path to finding a permanent host,” said Richards via Variety. “Our passionate fans are telling us what they like, and we are listening. All of the guest hosts have brought individualism, energy and an authentic love of our show to each of their episodes. We look forward to sharing the rest of the season with our viewers.”
“What is Passionate Fans,” is the correct answer to the LeVar Burton question. A Change.org petition was started by Joshua Sanders and since its inception, Sanders has brought in close to 250,000 signatures to not only have Burton appear as a guest host but to take over the show as the permanent host of Jeopardy!.
According to Sanders and his petition, “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 entire petition can be read here, which is where you can also sign Sanders’s call to action.
With many fans already considering LeVar Burton the frontrunner, the petition and its many signatures are just an indicator as to how popular Burton is amongst Jeopardy! fans. The actor gained worldwide recognition in the late ‘70s when he starred in his Emmy-nominated role as Kunta Kinte in the mini-series Roots, which was based on Alex Haley’s novel of the same name. Of course, Burton made an even bigger name for himself when he was cast as Geordi LaForge in all 176 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the feature film follow-ups, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis.
The 37th season of Jeopardy! has included a long list of guest hosts, the first of which was Jeopardy!’s GOAT (greatest of all time) Ken Jennings. He was followed in the guest host lineup by celebrities such as Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Mayim Bialik, Dr. Oz, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and super-fan, Super Bowl-winning quarterback from the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rogers. Buzzy Cohen, a Jeopardy! all-star will be the host of the show’s Tournament of Champions showing in May.
The big names don’t stop there. Along with LeVar Burton finishing up the final round of guest hosts, he will be joined by Good Morning America and This Week With George Stephanopoulos anchor George Stephanopoulos, as well as his fellow Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. Also scheduled to appear is the CNBC Squawk on the Street co-anchor and former Celebrity Jeopardy! champ David Faber, and sportscaster Joe Buck, a three-time National Sportscaster of the Year award winner who is widely known for covering MLB and NFL games on Fox. For each guest host’s appearance, they will receive a donation to the charity of their choice.
While it is hard to say that the permanent hosting gig is LeVar Burton’s to lose, he does appear to be one of the strongest candidates to fill Alex Trebek’s immense shoes. His 23 years as the host of Reading Rainbow certainly has helped the cause as did the online movement, something that Burton himself has acknowledged. “THANK YOU … to all y’all for your passionate support!” Burton wrote in a tweet. “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting ‘Jeopardy!,’ and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith … in me.”
Who should be the next, permanent host of Jeopardy? LeVar Burton can easily fill those shoes, but there are others, too, who can claim that duty. Let us know your thoughts.