Furious that LeVar Burton isn’t the new ‘Jeopardy!’ host? You’re not alone
Sony Pictures Television named Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik the respective hosts of “Jeopardy!” and its spinoffs Wednesday after an avalanche of controversy at the end of a months-long search to replace the late Alex Trebek.
Supporters of overwhelming fan favorite LeVar Burton — who recently guest-hosted the quiz show and has long openly campaigned to become the new face of the ABC program — met this week’s big news with outrage and disappointment on social media.
Some even vowed to boycott the series in disapproval of the final picks and in solidarity with the beloved actor.
“LeVar Burton is sitting there, brilliant and uncomplicated and with four decades of a loyal fan base, and these f— loony tunes roll the dice with Discount Patrick Bateman,” tweeted writer Charlotte Clymer. “I still believe LeVar Burton was the best person for the job, and I will die on this hill.”
“It was a good run Jeopardy,” wrote film critic Robert Daniels. “I’m going ... to stop watching with the memory of LeVar Burton as my host.”
Leading up to his brief stint as guest host of the long-running competition series, more than 257,000 fans signed an online petition nominating Burton to succeed Trebek.
Of course, Burton already has plenty of experience hosting educational programming. From 1983 to 2006, Burton served as host of the popular PBS series “Reading Rainbow,” which earned him several Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Other fans grew up watching him in “Roots” and the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” franchise.
Fans aren’t the only ones who were hopeful he’d land the job. On social media, in interviews and in correspondence with the show’s producers, Burton repeatedly stated his aspirations to assume the coveted mantle.
‘Jeopardy!’ goes in an unexpected direction, naming two replacements for the late Alex Trebek. New host Mike Richards’ legal past had been under scrutiny.
Last week, however, when rumors began circulating that “Jeopardy!” executive producer Richards was in final talks to host the show permanently, Burton released a positive statement to his loyal admirers on social media.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” he tweeted Aug. 5.
“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”
Despite Burton’s optimism, Twitter users didn’t soften their dismay over the final outcome.
Among Burton’s Hollywood allies were “Hair Love” director Matthew A. Cherry, who promptly renounced his “Jeopardy!” viewership; former “View” host Meghan McCain, who wondered why the show’s production team couldn’t “just give it to LeVar Burton like literally everyone on the planet wanted”; and “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who announced her grand plan to “create a show right in this moment for [Burton] to host and make an international hit.”
Though Burton has yet to respond to Wednesday’s casting announcement, he did answer DuVernay’s call by suggesting she check her direct messages on Twitter. So, if nothing else, we can maybe expect a power collaboration from the renowned actor and the prolific director.
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Several fans of Burton also brought up Richards’ past of wrongful termination lawsuits filed by multiple women who became pregnant and then lost their jobs at “The Price Is Right” while Richards served as executive producer of the game show.
Shortly before Sony Pictures Television appointed him as “Jeopardy!” host alongside “Big Bang Theory” alum Bialik, Richards addressed the backlash in a memo to the series’ staff.
After campaigning to succeed the late Alex Trebek for years, beloved ‘Reading Rainbow’ star LeVar Burton finally gets his turn to host ‘Jeopardy!’
“I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on ‘The Price Is Right,’” he wrote.
“I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”
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