The Star Trek actor joined Trevor Noah on The Daily Show on Thursday night and opened up about his stint on Jeopardy! as well as the overwhelming fan support he received — a fan petition endorsing Burton as the new Jeopardy! host amassed almost 300,000 signatures.
“You know, we did a Kickstarter several years ago,” Burton said. “I discovered then that the generation of adults now, who grew up on Reading Rainbow, they were down with whatever it is I wanted to do, and the same was true with this Jeopardy! thing. 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.”
Burton got his opportunity to guest host the iconic game show back in July. However, when it came time to select a full-time host, Sony Pictures opted for the show’s executive producer Mike Richards. This decision was met with immediate backlash and controversy, ultimately leading to Richards departing the show as both host and producer.
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Despite being overlooked for the role, Burton is not losing any sleep over it. “The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something, you know, 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,” he told Noah.
“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, okay, what’s next?” he continued. “And, so, 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.”
After it was revealed that Burton didn’t get the Jeopardy! gig, award-winning director Ava DuVernay posted a tweet indicating she wanted to find a way to work with the former Reading Rainbow host. “Me trying to create a show right in this moment for @levarburton to host and make an international hit,” she wrote.
“I never thought about hosting any other game show outside of Jeopardy! But now, they went in a different direction with their show, which is their right, and now I’m thinking, well, it does kind of make sense, let me see what I can do,” Burton added. “So we’re trying to figure out what the right game show for LeVar Burton would be.”
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Monday, 11/10c, Comedy Central
Jeopardy!, Weeknights, check your local listings