DuVernay was among thousands of fans who expressed disappointment after Burton didn’t land the role of Jepoardy! host
If there’s one takeaway from LeVar Burton’s 21 seasons hosting the educational children’s show Reading Rainbow, it’s his world-class ability to captivate the minds and hearts of an audience — so it’s no surprise that thousands of fans petitioned for the 64-year-old to host the popular trivia show Jepoardy! following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek.
Equally unsurprising was fans’ outrage when Burton did not land the job. But, their disappointment may not last long after Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay said she wants to take matters into her own hands.
Seemingly intrigued by the idea, Burton replied a few hours later telling DuVernay to “check her DMs.”
Burton was among several candidates in the running for the coveted Jepoardy! job after Trebek lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at 80 in November 2020. During the search for a replacement, a number of celebrities including Burton, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jepoardy!’s all-time winningest contestant Ken Jennings were invited to guest host the show as an unofficial tryout.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: LeVar Burton attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize )
On Wednesday, The Daily Beast first reported the news that Jepoardy!’s executive producer Mike Richards and actress Mayim Bialik will share the hosting role.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” Burton tweeted Aug. 5, days before the decision was made. “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.”
While many know Burton from Reading Rainbow, he also starred as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 ABC series Roots, and later as Geordi La Forge in the 1987 sci-fi series Star Trek: the Next Generation.
In 2014, DuVernay became the first Black woman to direct a film nominated for “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards following the release of her movie Selma. She is also known for directing the 2016 documentary 13th and the 2018 TV series When They See Us, both of which were released on Netflix.
While Burton and DuVernay have never officially worked on a production together, they have interacted before on social media. In 2019, Burton tweeted that When They See Us, which depicts the story of the Central Park Five, is “essential viewing.”
“I had to keep breathing,” Burton wrote. “Episode #1 nearly broke my heart, however I’ll keep watching. This is essential viewing for EVERY American! As essential to your understanding of America as was, ROOTS! Brava, @ava.”
DuVernay quickly replied: “Goodness, that last line got me. Coming from you. Thank you, Mr. Burton.”
Ava DuVernay attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
While there is no official word as to whether or not the two will team up on a new show, fans are already expressing their excitement over the prospect via social media.
“Yesssss!!” tweeted actress Holly Robinson Peete along with a GIF of a person jumping up and down excitedly.
“Bring back reading rainbow and stream it on Netflix. Or a stand alone origin series about Capt. Geordi La Forge in the Federation. BOOM!” tweeted actor and radio host Chuey Martinez.
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