Ok, Can LeVar Burton Host 'Jeopardy!' Now?
Last week, Jeopardy's team lost way more than $1,000 after bungling one of the most important questions in the history of the series, boldly answering “who is Mike Richards" to the inquiry of “this man is Jeopardy!'s new host." In the week and change since it was announced that Richards, along with The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik, would serve as the iconic series' hosts following the death of Alex Trebek in November, several concerning allegations have surfaced, arguably making the answer of “Who is Mike Richards” a better-suited reply to another question – "who is a cancelable host?”
In 2010, Richards was reportedly at the center of a lawsuit in which two former Price is Right models accused him of pregnancy discrimination. During episodes of his podcast, "The Randumb Show," he allegedly made fun of Jewish people using Pig Latin ("Ix-nay on the ose-nay") and purportedly made several sexist comments, including pressing co-host Beth Triffon on if she had taken naked photographs of herself. He also may have dabbled in racism as well. On an episode in which Triffon discussed issues with her apartment, he whipped out the following: "Does Beth live, like, in Haiti? Doesn't it sound like that? Like, the urine smell, the woman in the muumuu, the stray cats." I'll take ‘Yikes’ for $1,000, Mayim.
After a week-long media firestorm, in which Richards was absolutely demolished by almost everyone – including Dictionary.com …
… it seems those of us who like our Jeopardy! without a side of questionable hosts will ultimately have our dreams realized – Richards stepped down from his post on Friday, issuing a statement on his decision.
"I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show," Richards said per NBC News. “As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately," he continued, singlehandedly making every Jeopardy! fan scream “what is f------ finally." Despite his departure as host, he will still serve as an executive producer on the game show.
Yet amid the mixup, which has paused production and cast a strange shadow on the widely-revered series, a silver lining – nay, a golden opportunity – remains. The Jeopardy! team can atone for their casting f---- up by replacing Richards with a new host that is not only more than qualified for the job, but also just as beloved as Alex Trebek – a.k.a, one LeVar Burton.
Famed for his iconic roles on Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Burton is best known for serving as the host of the PBS educational series, Reading Rainbow for nearly a quarter century. Often credited with teaching an entire generation the joys of reading, the star is beyond qualified to fill Trebek's shoes, sporting extensive hosting experience, a strong passion for knowledge, and an evident love of learning – all while being a pretty stand-up dude – attributes that led fans to call for a Burton-led Jeopardy! even before Trebek's passing last fall.
“Not gonna lie, I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life to occupy the @Jeopardy host podium when Alex retires," Burton replied in a comment that garnered nearly 21,000 likes.
When the search for Jeopardy!'s new host began several months later, fans continued championing the iconic PBS star, support Burton evidently appreciated with the highly-coveted gig closer in sight.
“Have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” the actor, who guest-hosted the show in late July, tweeted earlier this month. “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.”
In case you're wondering just how popular Burton was – and likely still is – as a choice for Jeopardy!'s new host, it seems the answer is pretty damn popular. According to a new Morning Consult poll published by Mediaite on Tuesday, the former Reading Rainbow host stands as the top pick to replace Trebek, with 14% of all respondents and 16% of self-identified Jeopardy! fans naming him as their first choice.
Furthermore, a change.org petition calling for Burton to get the role has garnered more than 268,0000 signatures in the nine months since its posting, several backers signing on Friday in light of Richards's resignation.
Burton has remained tight-lipped the now-former host's departure, however, he seemingly alluded to the news in a post-reading “Happy Friday, ya'll!” Although several eagle-eyed fans noticed Burton's Friday posts are a weekly affair, several took his message particularly to heart this week – after all, learning you're once again a frontrunner to become the next Jeopardy! host is the marker of a pretty damn great Friday.
So, network execs, if you're reading this, remember “Who is LeVar Burton” is the only correct answer to “This star is Jeopardy!'s new host" – try not to f--- this one up again.