More than four years ago, New York-based broadcaster WNED sued former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton over his use of his old Reading Rainbow catchphrase “but you don’t have to take my word for it” on this LeVar Burton Reads podcast. At the same time, Burton and a company he had called RRKidz had been running a successful Kickstarter campaign to try and launch a new digital version of Reading Rainbow—they had gotten the rights and everything—but those plans fell apart either because of the lawsuit or just conveniently at the same time as the lawsuit.
It was all eventually settled, with the digital Reading Rainbow getting canned and Burton getting permission to use the catchphrase, but, at the time, WNED did say that it was “working on the next chapter of Reading Rainbow” (one, presumably, without Burton). It feels like a thousand years later, but now we know what that next chapter is: Reading Rainbow Live, a new take on the basic “someone reads you a story” concept that will “invite viewers into the screen to interact with each other and the program’s hosts.”
It’s not entirely clear what that actually means in a literal sense, but it sounds like more of an app or an online thing than a regular TV show… unless “the program’s hosts” are just soliciting one-sided input from the viewers like Dora The Explorer. She was good at that, but the people running this new Reading Rainbow—which, it should be explicitly stated, is meant to teach stuff to kids and isn’t some kind of nostalgia bait for jaded millennials who are more than capable of reading books themselves—seem to have more high-minded goals for it.
In a statement, WNED’s Executive VP and COO noted that “early learning experiences are crucial to the growth and development of young children, and Reading Rainbow Live provides a fun and innovative way for kids to explore the world and learn through books, music and movement.”
Reading Rainbow Live does not have a host attached yet, and it sounds like Burton is not in the running (he has his own stuff going on now anyway). If you think you’d be good, though, they are still casting for it. If you’re “diverse” and “multi-talented,” head over to this link.