There are still a few guest hosts left to take the reigns for Jeopardy!, but LeVar Burton’s impending fortnight at the podium has many fans excited about the man a considerable group of fans would like to see host the show full-time. That decision, of course, is up to the Jeopardy! staff and producers, who have essentially auditioned several notable names like Ken Jennings, Aaron Rodgers, and Katie Couric in recent months.
None of those hosts got serious traction with a petition to host the show, though, which is why the stakes are high for Burton when his episodes air later in July. And much like Rodgers, he’s been extremely forthcoming about why he wants the gig full-time. But his reasons are much different than a Jeopardy! champion or All-NFL quarterback. Namely, that it would matter for minority representation and continue what Burton has framed as a career full of service for others.
In an interview with the New York Times, Burton was blunt about why he wants the full-time role of Jeopardy! host.
It’s difficult to explain, but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching “Jeopardy!” more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. “Jeopardy!” is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant. Look, I have had a career for the [expletive] ages. “Roots,” “Star Trek,” “Reading Rainbow.” Won a Grammy. Got a shelf full of Emmys. I’m a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There’s a contest, there’s comedy, there’s drama. If you don’t know your [expletive] on “Jeopardy!” you’re sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that.
Burton discussed his relationships with Fred Rogers and even Steve McQueen in the piece, explaining what they meant to his career and what they taught him. It’s a lovely discussion, if only to add a bit more context to Burton and his desire to add Jeopardy! host to what he himself called a “career for the f*cking ages.” Burton later admitted that he would be disappointed if the gig wasn’t his at the end of the guest hosting rotation, but that he’s doing his best to put things into perspective ahead of his tapings.
It will hurt. I’m not going to lie. But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It’s all going to be OK. Because it always is.
We’ll have to see how well he does once he’s actually on stage, but Burton is certainly making good points about why he would make a great pick for the job.
[via NY Times]