‘Jeopardy!’: Robin Roberts Guest Hosting Stint Ending, Who’s Next?

by John Jamison

What began as an internet petition has resulted in one of the most anticipated “Jeopardy!” guest hosting debuts over the past few months. Robin Roberts‘ run on the show ends Friday, and that means the day we’ve all been waiting for will soon arrive.

On Monday, none other than “Reading Rainbow” and “Star Trek” star LeVar Burton will be seen behind the “Jeopardy!” lectern for the first time. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Time is running out for the show to decide on who will be the next permanent host. LeVar Burton has made it clear that he wants his name in the running for the gig, and how the audience responds to his performance could make or break his chances.

LeVar Burton first gained popular attention for his appearance in “Roots” in the late 1970s. He has enjoyed an accomplished acting career since. But from 1983 to 2006, Burton hosted “Reading Rainbow,” an educational program. His experience on the PBS show may prove valuable to his hopes for the “Jeopardy!” job. After all, “Jeopardy!” is all about knowledge.

Burton’s interest in “Jeopardy!” isn’t just a passing fancy. He is deadly serious about his intentions.

“It’s difficult to explain, but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching ‘Jeopardy!’ more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host,” Burton told The New York Times in a recent interview.

Basically, it didn’t take a petition for Burton to land himself on the show’s radar. He has been proactive about the opportunity ever since the late Alex Trebek passed away.

LeVar Burton Really Wants the ‘Jeopardy!’ Job

Burton himself feels that he’s the natural choice for the permanent hosting job. But there are several competitors out there who aren’t planning on rolling over and conceding.

Among them is the second-most iconic figure in “Jeopardy!” history, Ken Jennings. Fans responded well to his time at the podium, and by many accounts, he is the current favorite for the job. Of course, Aaron Rodgers threw his name in the mix. And other popular guest hosts included Mayim Bialik and even executive producer Mike Richards.

And while the producer likely isn’t looking at himself for the job, he does have some major say in who will get the job in the end. And guess who was the first to reach out about the position? LeVar Burton.

“LeVar and I’ve been speaking for a very long time. I think he was the first person to reach out to me after Alex passed away, so this is not a new conversation. It came down to LeVar … speaking to his passion and really believing that he would be a great fit to be a guest host. And as we came down to the final group, we were excited to get it all to work together,” Richards told USA Today in April.