LeVar Burton’s stint as guest host of “Jeopardy!” kicks off Monday night.
The former “Reading Rainbow” host appeared on “Good Morning America” on Monday to discuss his approach to hosting and his hopes for taking on the role permanently in the future.
“For me, my standard of excellence is so intense that my initial approach was to try and be as good as Alex was,” Burton said. “Of course I realized right away that that was an impossibility — the man had 37 years to perfect his mastery.”
Burton’s wife, Stephanie, was on set working as his makeup artist during his first episode, so she was able to give her honest feedback on his debut. After hearing Stephanie say “it wasn’t you” following his first episode hosting, LeVar quickly changed his tune.
“Thank god for marrying a woman who will tell you the truth — what you need to know, when you need to know it,” Burton continued. “So after I got the heads up from Steph, I just went out there and tried to bring as much LeVar to the moment as I possibly could and I’m hoping that that worked out better.”
Since the death of Alex Trebek in November 2020, Burton has been among the favorites on social media for the list of contenders to take over the hosting reigns for the popular game show.
The 64-year-old has long been a fan of the show, publicly stating several times over the past years that he would love to take on the role someday. A petition was started last year to make him Trebek’s successor.
It has amassed over 250,000 signatures since its creation in November 2020.
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Burton said he feels he is “the beneficiary of amazing grace.”
“I’ve been asked over the past couple weeks, ‘what is this about?’ And I think it has something to do with the fact that this generation of adults who grew up on “Reading Rainbow” feel like I have made an investment in them and they are returning the favor,” Burton said.
He said his career trajectory led him to “Jeopardy!”, and that his previous roles focusing on “storytelling and education” align with the show.
“This is what I’ve been doing my entire career,” he said. “For 45 years I’ve tried to use the medium of television to do more than simply entertain.”
“I know that we have the opportunity when we do it with consciousness to inform, to enlighten, to educate, to even uplift ourselves with the stories that we tell one another and I see ‘Jeopardy!’ as absolutely in the sweet spot of that Venn diagram,” he added.
Burton will host “Jeopardy!” July 26-30.
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