The future of Jeopardy! is unclear following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, but a new petition suggesting LeVar Burton is quickly picking up some steam online. Created by Joshua Sanders on Change.org, the petition notes that Burton has "inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds" by hosting Reading Rainbow and starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the "ever-important miniseries" Roots. As of this writing, over 9,000 signatures have been added to the petition as it nears its goal of 10,000.
"For my entire life LeVar Burton has been a beacon of wisdom, literacy, and humanity. I can think of no better successor to the late Alex Trebek," notes Aurelia Womack, a Burton fan who was one of the first to sign the petition.
No matter who will be given the challenging task, stepping into Trebek's shoes is going to be incredibly challenging for the next Jeopardy host. Alex Trebek has been a mainstay on television since he first began hosting the rebooted version of the classic game show in 1984. In addition to his talents as a host, Trebek also had a certain charm to him that made him impossible not to love, turning him into one of television's most beloved stars. Following up Trebek won't be easy for anyone, but it certainly helps that Burton shares these qualifications.
Jeopardy fans were shocked when Trebek first revealed his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer to viewers in March 2019. Although the diagnosis was grim, Trebek said that he planned to honor the contract he had signed with the network, guaranteeing his spot as the host of Jeopardy through 2022. In March 2020, Trebek celebrated a year of survival and updated fans on his condition, admitting that the cancer treatments were difficult but he would continue to fight the disease. Sadly, Trebek died on Sunday after recently filming several new episodes of the game show, and his final episode will air on Christmas Day.
Burton served as the host for Reading Rainbow since its inception on PBS in 1983. The show ran for 23 seasons before ending its run in 2006. During that time, the series won a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, with Burton himself winning 12 Emmy Awards as the host and producer of the show. Burton continues to provide reading materials to small children through his media company LeVar Burton Kids and the Skybrary iPad app. The former Reading Rainbow host also launched the podcast LeVar Burton Reads with each episode featuring Burton reading a different short story.
As an actor, Burton has also continued to make appearances on television. This includes a recurring role in the crime drama series NCIS: New Orleans and a guest appearance on The Eric Andre Show. It's not clear if he would be interested in hosting a game show like Jeopardy, especially when it comes to following someone as special as Trebek, but for what it's worth, there are thousands of people already on board with the idea. You can check out the petition or add your name to the list at Change.org.