LeVar Burton is no longer interested in hosting ‘Jeopardy’, says that’s over

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We just heard that Jeopardy isn’t going to go through the guest-host rigmarole for the rest of the year. After Sony fired Mike Richards, the producers are simply trying to steady the ship, which means that Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik will be hosting the show for the rest of the year. In TMZ’s coverage, they noted that their industry sources were still telling them that Sony is not interested in LeVar Burton whatsoever. Which sucks, because Burton was the fan-favorite and he really wanted the job. Emphasis on the past tense, apparently. Burton was interviewed by Trevor Noah last week on The Daily Show and he says that he’s no longer interested in hosting Jeopardy anyway.

LeVar Burton is retiring his quest to become the next “Jeopardy” host. While on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” Burton explained why he’s no longer interested in the gig, which is now shared by Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings after former executive producer Mike Richards’ firing.

“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something…they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted after all,” Burton told Trevor Noah on Thursday night. “What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right, but then, when I didn’t get it, it was, like ‘Well, okay, what’s next?’”

Burton added, “The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up. If you had given me a pen and paper and said, ‘Well, so what do you want this to really look like?’ If it doesn’t include ‘Jeopardy,’ I wouldn’t have been this generous to myself.”

After Alex Trebek’s death as the quiz show rotated through guest hosts, Burton campaigned heavily for the long-term position, quickly becoming a fan-favorite.

“I made it public that I wanted it for myself, that it made sense to me, and they were all about it,” Burton said. “It made as much sense to them as it did to me. And, so, they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it.”

Burton, who guest hosted “Jeopardy” from July 26-30, also hinted at another possible TV opportunity, telling Noah, “We’re trying to figure out what the right game show for LeVar Burton would be.”

[From Variety]

This mostly makes me sad. Like, LeVar would have been an amazing Jeopardy host and he would have hugely honored Alex Trebek’s legacy. But it’s pretty clear that Burton was marginalized by Mike Richards and the other executives from the word “go.” It’s clear he was met with ambivalence or outright hostility when he guest-hosted the show. And so LeVar just decided that it would be his call to pull the plug, to choose that he doesn’t want to play that game. I hope he gets his own talk show or Netflix show or something. He’s amazing.

LeVar Burton at the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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25 Responses to “LeVar Burton is no longer interested in hosting ‘Jeopardy’, says that’s over”

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  1. Eurydice says:

    He’s so gracious about it. I hope that all the positive exposure he got from this “competition” leads to something really satisfying for him.

  2. lucy2 says:

    I think he would have been wonderful in the job, but I don’t blame him for walking away after all that mess. The show didn’t handle any of it well.
    LeVar is a wonderful person, and I hope something awesome is on the horizon for him. My brother and I used to watch Reading Rainbow religiously.

    • AMA1977 says:

      I will ALWAYS love him so much for Reading Rainbow…it was my favorite as a kid. And his guest spot on “Community” was amazing as well. He just seems like such a nice, thoughtful, kind person and I hope he reaps rewards beyond his wildest dreams for having been subjected to this hot mess.

  3. lunchcoma says:

    I mean, yeah. At this point, he can do better.

  4. Emma says:

    He would have been amazing!

  5. psl says:

    He looks WONDERFUL.
    I was fortunate to have Christmas dinner at his house in the mid 90′s. He and his wife were so nice! A friend of mine was their Nanny, and there were only 6 of us at dinner.

    Great memory.

    • HoofRat says:

      Oh wow, I’m so envious; I bet the dinner table conversation was wonderful! And yes, he’s ridiculously beautiful, isn’t he? I haven’t watched Jeopardy for years, but I absolutely would have tuned in if he’d been named the new host. I hope he gets some really good offers after all this stupidity.

  6. bettyrose says:

    How great would it be if this gross episode results in Levar Burton getting a hosting role on a game show? A talk show too, but I probably wouldn’t watch it. The market is saturated and I don’t even have time to catch up on John Oliver and Trevor Noah. But jeopardy is the only game show I’m even tempted to watch, so there’s room in my life for a kick ass game show if Levar hosts something with the same level of cognitive challenge of jeopardy. Make this happen.

    • echthroi says:

      Have you seen Only Connect? It’s the only gameshow I watch, and Mr. Burton would totally kick butt in a US version!

      • bettyrose says:

        I had to google it. That looks great! I’m definitely on board with bringing that stateside and having Levar Burton host.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Mr. Burton deserves so much more. A true treasure.

  8. Angelica Schuyler says:

    We the public have no idea how the management and the staff treated him behind the scenes during his week of guest hosting. If they were really toxic and obnoxious towards him, he may have decided he was better off staying out of that environment. He may have dodged a bullet in the long run. It took the fans actually writing a petition for them to even consider him. And they practically bent over and kissed Mike Richards’ butt to arrange things in his favor until public outcry made the situation untenable. Now LeVar’s getting offers from people who actually want him. Hopefully he gets a great new show with a company that is happy to have him and pay him well. I’ll definitely watch whatever his new show is.

    • Deering24 says:

      Yep–no dream gig is worth constant undercutting. They would have made him miserable–and sabotaged him so he had to work twice as hard. In the immortal (paraphrased) words of Grace Kelly in Rear Window, negotiating toxic work environments is a POC’s hardest job. 🤮🤮 I’m kinda not surprised–Jeopardy took one long-ass time to diversify as little as it has. That always means deep institutional rot.

  9. TIFFANY says:

    He has an idea and Ava DuVerney said she was interested in either producing or helping him get it off the ground.

    So something is in the works.

    Personally, I would love for him to do a kids/teens version of a show. Reading Rainbow is a institution and education is important to him.

  10. Ariel says:

    When i think of jeopardy now- i just think of it as a bastion of racism, sexism and toxicity.
    They really ruined Alex Trebek’s legacy.
    LaVar Burton deserves better.

  11. BlueSky says:

    I legit believe Mike Richards saw Levar Burton as a threat and purposely sabotaged him by not giving him the same time as the others and putting him on during the Olympics. When all this went down everyone was wanting Jeopardy to hire him. Why would anyone want to be put in that toxic environment knowing they were all plotting against you and that you were never a serious contender? They would have set him up to fail. I’m glad he has gotten other opportunities because he is better than that show. Anyway, I will continue to listen to his wonderful podcast “Levar Burton Reads”.

    • Jais says:

      I mean putting him on for only one week during the Olympics…either way the producers of jeopardy are trash. Trebek and the show itself are iconic so to watch these producers tarnish that is gross. On a positive note, the fan petition for Levar reminded everyone just how iconic he is and what a legacy he has.

  12. North of Boston says:

    This is reminding me of Donald Glover’s pitch to be the next Peter Parker / Spider-Man. There was a big fan push for it, he would have been great but it didn’t happen … I think they went with Andrew Garfield instead. But since then Glover’s career has gone next level, with Atlanta, including BTS leadership, writing, other project he developed, roles in the MCU, and his continued music career.
    Also the campaign for him to be Spider-Man influenced the actual Marvel comic storylines for that character, and may have had ripples effects on related properties.

    So his career is doing great even though he missed out on that one specific job.

    I think the same is happening with LB.

    Jeopardy and Sony’s loss

    (hey, come to think of it, the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man casting was during the Sony era for that property! Hmmm )

  13. Meg says:

    Reading rainbow ☺ such good memories

  14. Nibbi says:

    This makes no sense to me. Why wouldn’t the Jeopardy people have jumped all over this and absolutely made it happen? It seemed a good match at first. LeVar Burton is an absolute legend. I’ve adored him from my earliest days. If anything he deserves more… Seems a step up for Jeopardy from Alex Trebek, but that’s just me, maybe. … Yes, he deserves more, but this is just a head-scratcher. I mean, I would’ve made an effort to actually watch Jeopardy or something just to have some LB charm and humanity on the regular.

    • North of Boston says:

      Yes, it really is a head-scratcher (racism) it makes no sense to anyone (Dick Cheney syndrome) it seemed such a perfect match we have no idea why Sony didn’t just make it happen (mediocre white guy entitlement, bro dude culture)

  15. FF says:

    Is Sony ever interested Black people leading anything when it isn’t about covering their racist asses after an email hack? Honest question.

    This is just like the Miles Morales Spider-Man movie after the hack showed them saying they didn’t want any Spider-people that weren’t Peter Parker. Good film and work from the people behind it but it wasn’t because Sony wanted it.

  16. deezee says:

    I was excited to watch him host. When he got the chance, he seemed so uncomfortable and awkward, it was hard to watch. I don’t think he would have been the right choice.