LeVar Burton had his chance to fulfill his dream of guest hosting five episodes of Jeopardy!, and his episodes will be airing this week. Following the passing of longtime host Alex Trebek in 2020, the Jeopardy! producers have been using various guest hosts as they're in no rush to settle on a permanent successor. From the start, fans had been campaigning for Burton to serve as host, and he was very forthcoming about his desire to take the job.
In light of a popular fan petition for LeVar Burton to host Jeopardy! and with the Star Trek: The Next Generation star consistently expressing his desire to come aboard, he was named as one of the final guest hosts of the season. He has since taped his episodes which will be debuting on Monday, July 26, and running for the rest of the week. This potentially puts him in the running to stick around as a permanent host if producers are happy enough with the job he did.
LeVar Burton addressed his feelings about guest hosting Jeopardy! in a new interview with The Seattle Times. The actor, who's also known for starring in Roots and hosting Reading Rainbow, said that stepping up to the podium was "really, really, really scary" as it comes with tremendous pressure to honor Trebek's legacy. He also admits that he wasn't happy with his first episode, but after taking advice from his wife, he came to really enjoy himself by the end of his run.
"I had, like all of the hosts, one day of rehearsal and the following day I shot five episodes of 'Jeopardy!' I came backstage after taping the first episode and I said to Stephanie, 'Well, how did I do?' She said, 'ehhh.' Now, this is a woman who loves me enough to tell me the truth. She said it wasn't me. I made it my business for the next four chances at bat to just be myself, to forget about the procedure, to forget about the process, stop trying, stop focusing on the wrong thing. You're not going to be smooth as Alex, let go of that. But what you can bring to the table is you. So that became my point of focus. And when it did, I started having fun."
Burton also spoke about how he'll take it if he doesn't get the call to return. Admitting that he would feel "disappointed," Burton also said all he really wanted was the chance to try as a guest host and he's already gotten that at this point.
"I am a preternaturally optimistic person. Look, if I don't get this job, will it be devastating to me? No. I mean, it will hurt, I'll be disappointed. And I'll be fine, because what I know about my life is that which is supposed to be for me comes my way. And that which is not mine, doesn't. The most important thing is that I went for it and my passion was rewarded. I got what I wanted, which was an opportunity to compete for the job. If I don't get the gig, it's not immaterial, but it certainly is secondary. I got what I was after. The chance - get me in the room."
LeVar Burton's episodes of Jeopardy! will air from July 26-30. Best of luck to Burton on landing the full-time job. You can read the full interview with Burton about the gig at The Seattle Times.