‘Jeopardy!’: LeVar Burton Responds to Critics of His Guest Hosting Stint

by Leanne Stahulak

While several fans applauded LeVar Burton’s guest-hosting time on “Jeopardy!”, others didn’t think he was the right fit for the job. And they weren’t afraid to say it online.

Several celebrities stepped up to the podium to fill in for Alex Trebek after he passed away over a year ago. Many fans petitioned for and begged production to choose Burton for the permanent hosting position. And he even admitted it was something he wanted. But Sony Pictures went with executive producer Mike Richards for the job, who soon stepped down because of past controversy.

Now, Burton is focusing on other projects, like a Trivial Pursuit hosting gig. But he hasn’t forgotten the lessons he’s learned from being in the spotlight during the “Jeopardy!” guest hosting process.

“Most recently, I discovered that one of the downsides to fame is vulnerability,” Burton told Rolling Stone. “I put myself out there and publicly stated that I wanted the job on ‘Jeopardy!’ when I didn’t get the job, there was a lot of unnecessary concern that I was devastated, when in fact I wasn’t. I was disappointed, but I wasn’t devastated.”

On the flip side of that vulnerability came those who tore down his “Jeopardy!” host performance. Burton learned a hard lesson after his time on the show about how social media can bring out the best and worst in people.

‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host LeVar Burton Talks About ‘Thick Skin’ When It Comes to Critics

“As a public personality, who you are is commented on and subject to the whims of people who don’t know you,” LeVar Burton told Rolling Stone earlier this week. He and several other “Jeopardy!” guest hosts have been praised and criticized by dozens of fans online in the last year.

“In the age of social media, you have access to the good, the bad, and the ugly of what people think about you,” Burton continued. “[Like] seeing on my Twitter, ‘Oh, he was terrible!’ ‘He was the worst of all the guest hosts.’ ‘He s*** the bed!” S*** the bed? I don’t think I was that bad! You gotta have thick skin. As Forrest Gump would say, ‘That’s all I’m gonna say about that.'”

Looking at the comments on any post can be a blessing and a curse. There will always be trolls who want to take others down for no reason. And there will be some people who just want to voice their honest opinion. But you also get the people who support and uplift others in any way they can.

“I felt the love. I can hardly speak about the experience,” Burton said of the “Jeopardy!” fan support. “It was overwhelming, and it came from all quarters of the fandom. People who are casual fans reached out and said, ‘This makes so much sense. You were done dirty.’ In the midst of all of that, one of the best things to come out of it was the love.”