LeVar Burton Didn’t Want to Be the Host of ‘Jeopardy!’ Anyway

"It wasn't the thing I wanted after all," guest host Burton told Trevor Noah.
This image provided by Jeopardy Productions, Inc. shows "Jeopardy!" guest host LeVar Burton on the set of the game show. (Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via AP)

Taking on the job of hosting “Jeopardy!” is a cursed affair. With Mike Richards fallen, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings are now set to take over for the rest of the year. But there was a time when LeVar Burton was thought to be the logical successor to the late Alex Trebek. And while the actor hosted the show briefly in July, it turns out that a more permanent position on the series wasn’t what he wanted.

As Burton revealed to Trevor Noah — via NBC News — guest-hosting “Jeopardy!” helped him realize that he didn’t want the gig ultimately.

“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something […] they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted after all,” Burton told Trevor Noah on Thursday night. “What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right, but then, when I didn’t get it, it was, like, ‘Well, OK, what’s next?'”

Burton added, “The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up. If you had given me a pen and paper and said, ‘Well, so what do you want this to really look like?’ If it doesn’t include ‘Jeopardy!,’ I wouldn’t have been this generous to myself.”

He continued, “I made it public that I wanted it for myself, that it made sense to me, and they were all about it. It made as much sense to them as it did to me. And, so, they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it.”

Burton hosted the show from July 26 through 30.

Mayim Bialik will take on hosting duties for the first few weeks beginning September 20 and running through November 5. Then, she and longtime champ Ken Jennings will trade off on emceeing the show as their schedules permit. Together, they will take “Jeopardy!” through the end of the year after the long, drawn-out mess of executive producer and erstwhile host Mike Richards’ exit from the program.

Just nine days after he was selected to succeed Alex Trebek as the new host of “Jeopardy!,” Richards stepped down from the post in August, facing scrutiny after numerous past controversies resurfaced in weeks prior. But when he was first named as host (taping only five episodes), it was also announced that “Big Bang Theory” favorite Bialik would also host the show’s primetime specials and spinoff series. She was then recruited to fill in as the daytime host following Richards’ departure.

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