"Jeopardy!" finally taps LeVar Burton as a guest host, heeding the wisdom of concerted fan campaign

The ex-"Reading Rainbow" host joins a rotating roster of guest hosts that includes George Stephanopolous & Joe Buck

By Manuela Lopez Restrepo
Published April 22, 2021 12:14AM (UTC)
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LeVar Burton speaks during Sir Patrick Stewart's handprint & footprint ceremony at TCL Chinese Theater (Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

LeVar Burton may finally make our "Jeopardy!" hosting dreams come true. 

The beloved quiz show hasn't been quite the same following the death of kind, witty and brainy host Alex Trebek from pancreatic cancer last November. In the eyes of many, there was no "Jeopardy!" without Trebek . . . but the former "Reading Rainbow" host and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" alum soon became a fan-favorite as a possible host contender. Salon's TV Critic Melanie McFarland even laid out a convincing argument as to why Burton should take up the quiz show mantle. 

But despite that obvious – and popular – candidate available, the "Jeopardy!" team put fans through the gauntlet first, subjecting them to an oddly random and ill-advised assortment of media personalities, journalists, and celebrities in a rotating guest-hosting gig for weeks-long chunks of time throughout the 37th season. 

Some hosts that generated the most buzz included Ken Jennings, former "Jeopardy!" super champion who also had to deal with some unsavory past tweets being dredged up, TV daytime host and hawker of pseudoscience Dr. Oz, and even Anderson Cooper, the CNN news anchor. There were also some wildcards, like the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (whose stint led to a ratings spike), as well as TV news anchor Katie Couric, who became the first woman in history to host the show.

All the while, fans bided their time and built up the campaign for Burton online. A Change.org petition titled, "Make LeVar Burton the next host of Jeopardy!" has generated over 246,000 signatures since it was created five months ago.

Burton himself embraced the movement, retweeting fans and sharing memes. In an MSNBC interview with Joshua Johnson, Burton said that, "In many respects, I feel like I have been preparing my whole life for the job . . . should that job come my way, I would be exceedingly glad."

In the last few weeks, Burton made sure to remind his followers of the goal at hand with a brief but eloquent tweet that called attention to not landing the gig yet.

In a culmination of the Burton-Hive's efforts (is there an official title for LeVar's stans yet?), the official "Jeopardy!" Twitter account finally announced Wednesday that Burton would be included in the next round of guest hosts. 

Burton shared his gratitude shortly afterward, tweeting to his fans, "THANK YOU . . . to all y'all for your passionate support! I am  overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time."

Besides Burton (whose name earns a very "Jeopardy!"-friendly exclamation point in the tweet), others taking turns at the podium include "Good Morning America" co-hosts Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos (hosting separate weeks), as well as CNBC host David Faber and FOX News sports commentator Joe Buck.

There's no word yet as to who may be selected for the permanent position, but the hosts' performances (and ratings) in the upcoming weeks could play a part in swaying producers. And never doubt the power of the Burton-Hive may have something to do with the outcome of that decision.


Manuela Lopez Restrepo

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