‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host LeVar Burton Draws Common Thread Between Past Projects and Hosting the Show

by Keeli Parkey

The episodes of “Jeopardy!” featuring LeVar Burton as guest host will begin airing across the United States on Monday, July 26.

Ahead of that premiere, the “Reading Rainbow” host talked with The Seattle Times about what it was like to serve as a guest host of the popular quiz show. Unsurprisingly, Burton used the wisdom he gained from his past experiences to help him during his brief guest-hosting tenure. Also, these past experiences included his work on “Reading Rainbow,” “Roots,” and “Star Trek.”

During the recent interview, this “Jeopardy!” co-host was asked, “Why do you consider the show and the host’s role as worthwhile?”

First, Burton’s answer included comments about how television can serve as a tool for education.

“I’ve been about education my entire career, and I definitely believe in the medium (of television) as one where more than simply entertaining is the order of the day,” LeVar Burton said. “I try and use the medium in a way that brings something else to the table as often as I can.”

‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host LeVar Burton Said the Quiz Show and His Other Shows Have ‘Commonality About Them’

This “Jeopardy!” co-host then looked to his past work as examples of how television can do more than just entertain viewers and make money for others. With his previous series, LeVar Burton found work that taught lessons to viewers. These shows also provided inspiration and encouragement.

“I think that ‘Roots’ and ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Reading Rainbow,’ they all have that commonality about them, that common thread of entertainment, yes — and informational, inspiring, enlightening, educational, uplifting. We can do so much more than just sell each other stuff with the medium,” Burton also said.

As fans are aware, the same qualities can be found in “Jeopardy!”

LeVar Burton hosted “Reading Rainbow” for 23 seasons. The first season hit the small screen in 1983. According to IMDb, Burton appeared in the “Roots” miniseries as the character of Kunta Kinte in 1977. He played the character again in the 1988 television movie, “Roots: The Gift.” Also, when the series hit the small screen again in 2016, the “Jeopardy!” co-host played the character of Ephraim.

Burton’s tenure on “Star Trek” lasted many years. First, he played the character of Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from 1987 until 1994. He returned as the character many other times. These included “Star Trek Generations” in 1994, the video game “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Final Unity” in 1995, “Star Trek: First Contact” in 1996, and “Star Trek: Nemesis” in 2002, just to name a few.

Also, LeVar Burton’s tenure as the guest host of “Jeopardy!” is slated to take place from Monday, July 26, through Friday, July 30, according to the show’s website. Like the other guest hosts before him, Burton has also chosen a charity that will benefit from his time on the show. Unsurprisingly, he selected Reading is Fundamental.