After months of campaigning for beloved actor and literacy advocate LeVar Burton to take over the Jeopardy! podium permanently, fans of Burton and Jeopardy! learned yesterday that he probably wasn’t getting the gig. As we reported last night, Jeopardy executive producer Mike Richards, also known as some guy that’s not LeVar Burton, is in “advanced negotiations.” It all sounds like some bullshit, but whatever.
One man who’s taking this with the grace you’d expect is LeVar Burton. Today, the actor posted on Twitter to thank fans for the vote of confidence in becoming late host Alex Trebek’s successor. “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” Burton tweeted. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”
Following Trebek’s death in November 2020, Burton quickly became the fan favorite to be his successor. Though also known for his narrative television work on Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Burton became synonymous with education thanks to Reading Rainbow, a PBS children’s educational series. On the show, Burton encourages kids to read, recommends books, and explores the library. Over the show’s two-decade run, Reading Rainbow won a Peabody and 26 Emmys.
Burton emerged from a competitive field of guest hosts, including NFL player Aaron Rodgers, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, and *barf* Dr. Oz. Luckily, Oz didn’t get the gig. Instead, they’re giving the job to the show’s executive producer, which, yeah, seems like he’s giving the job to himself, but, again, whatever. In our ranking of the Jeopardy! guest hosts, we placed Richards at 14, writing:
Credit where credit’s due: The Jeopardy! executive producer was surprisingly effective during his stint as host, which is about all anyone could ask of him. He garnered a lot of audience goodwill thanks to the moving tributes to his former colleague Alex Trebek that kicked off most of his episodes; that, combined with a decent knack for holding down the control of gameplay borne of years spent running the show, kept his tenure solid. But ultimately, it was always clear he was just keeping the seat warm for someone else, the equivalent of a decent-enough substitute teacher: Sure, they’re acceptable for the time being, but always with the knowledge that their stay here is limited.