LeVar Burton Lands New Project While Gearing Up To Guest-Host ‘Jeopardy!’

by Josh Lanier

LeVar Burton hopes to parlay his guest-hosting stint on Jeopardy! into a full-time hosting job, but he just landed a major role on a new CW show.

Burton lends his voice to the character of Barclay in the CW’s new show based on the popular book series Tom Swift, Deadline reported. Barclay is Tom Swift’s (Tian Richards) AI sidekick. The network recently aired an episode of Nancy Drew where she meets Tom Swift. The May 12th episode was a backdoor pilot for a potential Tom Swift show that is currently being developed.

However, fans of the Tom Swift novels may not recognize this version of the character. For instance, in the novels, Swift didn’t create Barclay as an 8-year-old tech whiz. That update is similar to Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man movies. But Barclay just happens to be Swift’s best friend who tags along on all of his adventures.

The new Tom Swift is still a genius. But producers have made him the coolest guy in the room, as well.

Tian Richards, who plays Swift, told TVLine the big change is an appropriate update for the times.

“The original Tom Swift was great for his time and what he represented,” he said. “At the time, that was the face of young boys, All-American kids full of possibilities. But in 2021, that can look so different. It can look like someone like me — a Black guy who is chocolate, who is queer, who is all those things that we’re told aren’t the normal or the status quo.”

The update is in line with much of CW’s programming. The network has updated Nancy Drew and executives re-imagined the Archie and Jughead comics into the show Riverdale.

LeVar Burton Set To Host ‘Jeopardy!’ In July

Earlier this year, LeVar Burton, famed actor and host of Reading Rainbow, began lobbying to replace Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. Trebek died last year of pancreatic cancer.

The push, along with a heavy petitioning from fans, got producers’ attention. Now, Burton is set to host the show from July 26-30. He’s already filmed his episodes, and told Entertainment Weekly that “it was a phenomenal experience.” He wasn’t allowed to say much more about his time on the show before it airs.

Burton said that he wants to honor Trebek in how he hosts the show. And he said he wouldn’t have forgiven himself if he had let the opportunity pass without trying to land the gig.

“What I was interested in, once the table was set, was having an opportunity to compete for the job,” Burton added. “I believe I would not have forgiven myself if I had let this potential [opportunity] pass without doing everything within my power to put myself forward.”

LeVar Burton has previously told the magazine that he thinks he’s the perfect fit for the job.

“I don’t believe there is anyone out there who is better suited for this job than me,” he said.