Those interested in seeing some more of LeVar Burton after his brief stint guest hosting Jeopardy!, you’re in luck. XTR is producing Butterfly In The Sky, a documentary on the 1980s children’s show Reading Rainbow, which Burton hosted for its 26-year run. You know, the one with the theme songs that goes, “Butterfly in the sky/I can fly twice as high.”
Butterfly In The Sky will chronicle the journey of a handful of broadcasters, educators, filmmakers, and the iconic host, who believed television could inspire a lifelong love of reading in kids. The documentary is directed by duo Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb. The pair’s recent projects include the documentary films Jasper Mall, A Life In Waves, and County Fair, Texas.
“Reading Rainbow was my window into the big city and into diverse cultures,” Whitcomb says. “Reading Rainbow was arguably the first time I encountered ‘documentary-style’ television as a young person, planting a seed that would inspire me for the rest of my life and lead me to where I am in my career to this day.”
Butterfly In The Sky is currently in production and will feature archival footage as well as interviews with Burton as well as many others. Over Reading Rainbow’s run, it became the most-watched PBS program in the classroom, wining over 250 awards including 26 Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award, and others.
“As a Mexican-American growing up in Houston, I was always surrounded by diversity,” Thomason says. “More than any show on television, Reading Rainbow reflected the cultures that surrounded me. When the book fair came to my school, I went straight for the Reading Rainbow titles. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show’s mission statement was manifesting itself in me. I devour books to this day and I know Reading Rainbow had a hand in that.”
The documentary arrives after a wave of other nostalgia-rooted films Won’t You Be My Neighbor and I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, which dive into the history of beloved children’s television shows and the people that make them happen. Butterfly In The Sky sounds like it will be very wholesome, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”