LeVar Burton recently shared his side of what went down when he was skipped for the Jeopardy! hosting gig when Alex Trebek, host of the trivia tournament for 37 seasons, died in 2020 of pancreatic cancer. Speaking with Newsy, the actor and on-stage talent opened up about being contacted to host the Scripps National Spelling Bee around the same time that he learned he was not chosen as one of Jeopardy!‘s two co-hosts.
“It happened in the same time frame, if not the same week, that I was not named the host of the game show that shall not be named,” he explained. “And so to get the call from Scripps Spelling Bee about hosting this tournament was a huge balm on an open wound.”
Burton added, “I thought, ‘Ah, at least they see me. They see me, they see me.’ I’m definitely one to go where I’m wanted and loath to go where I’m not invited.”
Reflecting on not being hired to continue Trebek’s legacy, Burton shared his deeper feelings on the entire ordeal. After Trebek’s passing, the television series sought out multiple hosts fulfilling part-time duties until permanent replacements were chosen. Burton was one of these temporary hosts, taking on the gig for a week in July 2021. In November the year prior, fans of the Reading Rainbow star launched an online petition to make LeVar Burton the next host of Jeopardy!
In September 2021, actress Mayim Bialik and Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings were named the co-hosts of the quiz show. “I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it,” Burton told Newsy. “As it turns out, it really wasn’t a competition after all. The fix was in.”
He continued, “I think it was in that first week of feeling really, sort of, not just disappointed, but wrecked,” he added. “I didn’t expect that I would not be their choice for host.”
Watch the conversation with Newsy below.