LeVar Burton Appreciates Fans Suggesting Him As New Host Of ‘Jeopardy!’

The world is still mourning the passing of Alex Trebek, who hosted the daily syndicated game show Jeopardy! since 1984, when it debuted in syndication. There has been no announcement on a replacement for Trebek, but one name in the mix is especially familiar to Star Trek fans: LeVar Burton.

Who is LeVar Burton?

LeVar Burton was famous before he boarded the USS Enterprise-D in 1987, where he spent seven seasons and four feature films playing engineer Geordi La Forge. In addition to starring in the landmark 1977 mini-series Roots, Burton is also known to anyone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s as the host of the PBS educational series Reading Rainbow. And he is still reading through his popular LeVar Burton Reads podcast.

Burton has made no secret that he is interested in the hosting gig on Jeopardy! In 2018 after Trebek first indicated he may be retiring, Burton told a crowd in STLV “I’ve made it very clear… when Alex Trebek retires in two years, I want that job!” He has expressed interest in the job a few times on social media in the last two years, including in September of this year when he tweeted “Not gonna lie, I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life to occupy the Jeopardy! host podium when Alex retires.”

After Trebek’s passing, an online fan petition was started for Burton to host Jeopardy! and it has already garnered over 60,000 signatures. And Burton himself responded to express his appreciation for those supporting the petition.

But he also wanted to make it clear he is not lobbying for the job during this mourning period.

Coming on as host would be a bit of a return for Burton. In 1995 he was a contestant on a celebrity edition of Jeopardy! and he won.

Oddsmakers put Burton in the top 5 to replace Trebek

Burton’s name is just one being bandied about as a possible new host for Jeopardy!  Former mega-champion Ken Jennings is considered the odds-on favorite for the job. He recently joined the show as a consulting producer and it has been reported that he was Trebek’s choice as a replacement.

Betting sites are paying even money for Jennings, but Burton is considered third most likely, paying 9-1 odds. Burton’s odds rank him third, behind Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos, but ahead of scientist and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson and Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak.

Keep up with the Star Trek celebrity news at TrekMovie.com.

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Dang, this is actually a really good idea. And while I like Jennings, he’s not natural host material.

The loss of Trebek still has me in shock. I really was hopeful he could last a bit longer. It’s sad knowing he’s gone so soon.

I think Levar’s a good choice. Obviously Trebek might have liked Jennings to host as they knew each other, but even Trebek has publicly said the choice of his successor isn’t his call to make, and I personally think he’d be fine with Levar too.

I adored Trebek. He could be a bit of a condescending personality at times, but he was such a reassuring presence and so very good at that job.

I remember watching LeVar do very well at Celebrity Jeopardy. He’d be great at the interview portion, which normally I skip through on Jeopardy or Wheel.

I cried when Trebek died.

Sajak is on the short (betting) list?

Good god, why Sajak? Ever see his late night talk show? He’d barely be able to read the questions.

He has always clearly been itching to do anything but host Wheel, but yeah those conservative talk show stints were not great.

Still, I was so disillusioned to see Vanna White kinda fall flat on her face when she finally got to host the show while he was ill. He really does have a knack for it and clearly not just anyone can do it.

Pat Sajak has been the host of Wheel of Fortune for 29 years. By now, I would say that he is pretty experienced at this sort of thing.

The surprise for me on the betting list was Neil Degrasse Tyson.
He is a gifted scientist.
But, a game show host?

Somehow, I doubt Tyson needs this gig. Seems to me he’s plenty busy…

Sajak is on the list because he already works for the production company and is the only person alive who has hosted Jeopardy before.

Over 76,000 votes in favor of LeVar Burton as the next host.

While noone will be able to replace Alex Trebek, I think LeVar would make a worthy successor.

I’m sure the folks at Jeopardy have been vetting candidates well in advance of Trebeck’s death in anticipation of the day he might retire. As a producer, Alex might have had input into that process. I’m not wild about the rumor of Ken Jennings succeeding him, and rumblings of George Stephanopoulos stumping for the job interest me, but it would be hard to imagine someone with a better blend of warmth and wisdom than Lavar.

He’d be a great host. I hope he gets it.

I would like William Shatner or Patrick Stewart

I’m sorry. I try not to be negative on here, but Shatner as host of Jeopardy! would be a GD joke.

Shatner would be a joke, and I suspect game show host would be a bit beneath Stewart.

Stewart is 80 and Shatner will be 90 in March.

I’m guessing the Jeopardy folks want someone who will stick around for a while.

If Jennings was Trebek’s choice, that is good enough for me.

Alex Trebek would be proud

I’m in the exact same age group as Mr. Burton, and I’m not sure the production will be looking for someone in their mid 60s as the new host. Age is one of the reasons I think Jennings, who is 17 years younger, would be the company’s choice. That said, I’d love to be proven wrong and see LeVar at the podium.

I also deeply miss Alex and don’t envy whoever is tapped to fill his shoes.

I really doubt it will be either Jennings or Burton. I suspect they’ll bring in someone new. Trebek was somewhat known for several earlier game shows (a bad version of Concentration, for example), but wasn’t a star. It would be a good idea to do that again.

I wonder if they might have revolving hosts for the rest of the season after Trebek’s final episodes run in late December, to let various celebrities and newcomers try-out before making a major commitment. If Jennings or Burton are good, then they have a choice. Of they might find the next Alex Trebek somewhere else.

I can’t see Jennings being a long term fit.

I remember Jeopardy from its presyndication days. It was dreary.

No matter how successful Jennings was on the show, they need someone more rounded with an entertainment background to hold an audience.

Yes, Levar Burton is older, but he might be exactly the right balance for a host to take the show through an initial 5-10 year bridging transition.

When Johnny Carson retired from the Tonight Show it wasn’t clear that anyone else could carry the show, but now it’s not a question.

Trebek was never the star of “Jeopardy!” (his words). The contestants were/are the stars.

Whoever ends up succeeding him as Host, needs to be able to set aside their own ego, and realize they’re not the star of the program.

Also, the LeVar petititon is over 83,000 signatures now :D

Sure, but he was being gracious. The host does make the show. Look at how well Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? did (didn’t) do after Regis Philbin left. Or how blah Wheel of Fortune was in those episodes where Vanna filled in for Pat Sajak as host. Or how bad Family Feud is without Richard Dawson.

Jeopardy was lucky to get two great hosts, Art Fleming and Alex Trebek. I hope they can find a third. But looking at some of the awful prime time game shows of the last few years, with Michael Strahan or Alec Baldwin as host, I’m just not hopeful.

Do it. He’s excellent.

Seriously, pass you need to find a host a bit younger. Ken Jennings to me is the obvious choice.

I’d like to see him play Geordi on Picard and, also behind the camera again for Star Trek.

He ruined his chances by appearing in Season 5 of the Eric Andre Show

What would Brent Spiner say, if Burton had annother gig more than him ;-)

Tweeting a link to the petition a few days after the death and then making a separate tweet to say you’re in mourning isn’t “making it clear he is not lobbying for the job during this mourning period”.. It’s the opposite.

There’s a pretty interesting Star Trek connection with Ken Jennings. Several years ago, when Wil Wheaton was essentially an annual guest at Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, Ken showed up as a regular fan in Wil’s authograph line. Wil looked up at him and said “You’re Ken Jennings!” If you scroll waaaaaayyyy back on Wil’s website, you’ll find his tale about that encounter!

Actually, I found out there’s even more Star Trek-ness to that story. Here’s Ken Jennings’ own account of what happened when he attended ECCC in 2011: http://ken-jennings.com/blog/archives/2621