It took a viral fan petition, but this week, Star Trek: The Next Generation star LeVar Burton achieves his dream of hosting Jeopardy. Well, technically, he already achieved that dream, having taped his episodes. Audiences will get to see it when those episodes air this week. The host of Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton Reads, speaking to The Seattle Times, admits that hosting Jeopardy was challenging even for a veteran presenter like him. "Being at home, it feels like a really relaxed half-hour, but it's not relaxed at all," Burton tells the newspaper of stepping into Alex Trebek's shoes. "You can't let your focus drop for a nanosecond."
Burton's wife, Stephanie Cozart Burton, is also his makeup artist and was with him during the taping. She gave him a frank assessment of his performance during the first episode that may have saved him from repeating the same mistakes during the following four.
"I came backstage after taping the first episode and I said to Stephanie, 'Well, how did I do?' She said, 'ehhh' Now, this is a woman who loves me enough to tell me the truth. She said it wasn't me," Burton recalls.
"I made it my business for the next four chances at bat to just be myself, to forget about the procedure, to forget about the process, stop trying, stop focusing on the wrong thing," he continues. "You're not going to be smooth as Alex, let go of that. But what you can bring to the table is you. So that became my point of focus. And when it did, I started having fun."
Burton still hopes that he has a shot at becoming the next full-time Jeopardy host. In April, he made his case for getting the job during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"I've thought and thought and thought — I've asked friends and family to help me identify someone out there who's more qualified for the job than I am," Burton says. "I don't believe there is anyone out there who is better suited for this job than me. And I will go to my grave believing that… I think my whole career is an advertisement for being the host of Jeopardy."
Are you excited to finally see LeVar Burton host Jeopardy? Let us know in the comments section. Burton's episodes begin airing on Monday and run throughout the week. Check your local listings for times and channels.