LeVar Burton made his 'Jeopardy!' debut and fans already want him as permanent host

LeVar Burton as 'Jeopardy!' host? Nature is healing.
Published July 27, 2021 9:29 a.m. EST
CAROL KAELSON - JEOPARDY PRODUCTIONS, INC. CAROL KAELSON - JEOPARDY PRODUCTIONS, INC.

LeVar Burton has finally taken his place at the Jeopardy! podium, and even though it’s only in a guest-host capacity for now, fans are clearly thrilled that he’s invoking Hamilton and not throwing away his shot.

“As a longtime viewer of the show, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest host Jeopardy!” Burton said at the top of the show on July 26. “And I’m proud to be here to honour Alex’s legacy, and I’m gonna do my best to ensure that these talented Jeopardy! contestants enjoy their moment here as well.”

Burton’s guest-turn on the show came after fans petitioned producers and the man himself admitted that he’s had his eye on the gig “for a long time.” Last April the Powers That Be revealed it was finally happening, announcing Burton’s name alongside Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, David Faber and Joe Buck as the last hosts of Season 37. 

So no pressure or anything, but how did Night 1 go? Aside from terrible for contestant Patrick Pearce, who set the record for lowest score ever ($-7400), most of Burton’s fans seemed thrilled with his skills. After all, this is the guy who shaped young minds on Reading Rainbow, so getting the chance to quiz them as adults on what they’ve learned makes total sense. 

Despite the many, many positive reviews and calls to make the gig permanent, there were some who weren’t quite convinced that Burton is the person for the job just yet. Some thought he was trying too hard to be like late host Alex Trebek, while others thought some of the previous guest hosts were better suited to the job.

Overall, the naysayers were few and far between, as most just wondered when Burton would become a permanent show fixture. However, there was one other person who wasn’t super impressed with the host on his first night, and that was Burton’s wife, Stephanie Cozart Burton.

“She said, ‘Eh, it wasn’t you,’” Burton told Good Morning America of her reaction after he taped that first episode. “Thank God for marrying a woman who will tell you the truth!” he added, revealing that for the rest of the week’s episodes he, “tried to bring as much LeVar to the moment” as possible.

Burton definitely had a more limited amount of time to get comfortable in the gig than some of the other guest hosts. His stretch of episodes is only a week long compared to the two weeks guest-hosts like Katie Couric, Dr. Oz, Aaron Rodgers, Anderson Cooper, Mayim Bialik, Savannah Guthrie and Dr. Sanjay Gupta had.

It’s also bad timing. Burton’s episodes are up against the Olympics, which means even if he pulls in top ratings, viewership is lower than what it would be if people weren’t tuning into the games.  

Burton’s hosting gig wraps on July 30, which also brings Season 37—the most talked-about season ever of the series—to a close. In the meantime, he’s hosting for the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, an organization that supports children’s literacy, and hoping that at some point soon he gets official word that he is, in fact, the new host.

“I’ve gone out on a limb and actually put it out there that I want that job, because I do think it’s a logical and natural progression for me,” Burton told GQ. “We’ll see if Sony Pictures Entertainment feels the same way.”

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