If LeVar Burton had landed his dream job on Jeopardy! he never would have been able to return as Geordie on Star Trek: Picard.
LeVar Burton may have lost his dream job hosting Jeopardy! but the Star Trek star counts it as a blessing. According to People, the actor credits his failure to secure a permanent position as a gameshow host with his decision to do Star Trek: Picard. Burton even describes his work on the third and final season of the Paramount+ series as “absolute bliss.”
When long-time Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek stepped down, LeVar Burton was hoping to take his place. Sadly it wasn’t in the cards for the Star Trek star, as he was passed over for Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards and later current hosts Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik. While it was a bummer at the time, LeVar is now thankful that it worked out the way it did.
“Your failures are more important than your successes because you learn more from them,” Burton told People. Had the actor been chosen as the permanent host of Jeopardy!, he wouldn’t have been in a position to accept the offer to reprise his role as Geordi La Forge on Picard.
But it wasn’t just the chance to get all dolled up in his old Starfleet duds that enticed LeVar Burton to return to the role of Geordi for the first time since 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. It was the opportunity to act alongside his favorite actress: his daughter. Mica Burton was cast to play one of Geordi’s daughters on Picard, a role she was uniquely suited for as both Burton’s real-life offspring and a Star Trek baby in general.
“Mica’s grown up with them all,” pointed out LeVar Burton before going on to list his Star Trek co-stars Michael Dorn (Worf), Johnathon Frakes (Will Ryker), and Patrick Stewart (Jean Luc Picard), as groomsmen at his 1992 wedding to Mica’s mother, makeup artist Stephanie Cozart Burton. LeVar’s best man? No other than everyone’s favorite android, Data actor Brent Spiner.
LeVar Burton described being on the Picard set as “effortless” and compared it to the “old days” on the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For Mica, the experience has been, in her words, a “whirlwind.” The actress considers all of her father’s former co-stars her “aunts and uncles” despite spending a brief period of her life as “anti-Star Trek” in an effort to develop her own identity as someone other than just LeVar Burton’s daughter.
Luckily Mica changed her mind, and now she and LeVar get to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act together in the franchise that made her father famous. Or rather, the second franchise.
Before LeVar Burton ever set foot in the Star Trek universe, he was encouraging kids to read as the host of Reading Rainbow. Burton hosted the PBS series from 1983 to 2006 and is probably responsible for the literacy of a good chunk of millennials.
Ultimately LeVar Burton is totally at peace with his failure to land the Jeopardy! gig. The Star Trek star remarked that he’s “ecstatic” about the way things turned out for him and says everything in life is as it should be. For once, you can take his word for it.