After Jeopardy! Rejection, LeVar Burton Gets New Gig

'Reading Rainbow,' 'Roots' star will host Scripps National Spelling Bee in June
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2021 3:45 PM CST
Scripps Spelling Bee Recruits 'Perfect Match' as Host
LeVar Burton is seen Sept. 8, 2021, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

"Happy Friday, y'all!" was LeVar Burton's cheerful greeting on Twitter this morning, before the announcement likely contributing to his good mood was made. That revelation, per a release cited by NPR: The Emmy- and Grammy-winning actor and former host of PBS' Reading Rainbow has a new hosting gig coming up, this time for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June. Burton, 64, will appear during the televised semifinals on June 1 and the finals on June 2 in Washington, DC. Picking Burton as host "aligns with the mission" of the popular spelling bee, says Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the event, per the release. "To have such a prominent advocate for children's literacy involved in this special and unique competition is a perfect match."

Even though the spelling bee has aired since 1994 on ESPN, with personalities from that network typically serving as hosts, 2022's event will air live on the EW Scripps-owned channels ION and Bounce. "The time is right to bring the iconic competition back to broadcast television, the media platform accessible for free to nearly every American viewer across the country," Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson said in an October statement.

Burton, also well known for his roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Alex Haley's Roots miniseries, was a fan favorite to take over as the host of Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek died last year. He did serve as a guest host on the game show over the summer, but he lost out on the permanent role, which is being handled for now by Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings and actress Mayim Bialik. Burton, however, sounds happy with his new assignment. "Hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be an honor," he says in the release. (More LeVar Burton stories.)

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