Actor LeVar Burton said he was “more than nervous” when guest-hosting five episodes of “Jeopardy!” that begin airing tonight.
“I was absolutely petrified,” said Burton, best known for his portrayals of the young slave Kunta Kinte on the groundbreaking 1977 ABC miniseries “Roots” and Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge in the 1987-94 syndicated science fiction series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” “I don’t know that that feeling ever went away.”
Burton said his wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Mica, kept telling him, “You’ve got this, breathe, slow down, you know how to do what it is that you do.” Burton described himself as a fan of “Jeopardy!” dating back to its original incarnation, when it aired weekday mornings on NBC and was hosted by Art Fleming.
“When this opportunity came by I could not pass it up,” Burton said in an interview posted on the show’s website.
“Jeopardy!” has turned to guest hosts to fill the role held by the late Alex Trebek since its syndicated revival began in 1984. The show has been matching the amount of money won by the contestants to a charity of each host’s choice.
Burton selected Reading is Fundamental, the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization, as the charity to benefit from his stint as guest host.
“They provide thousands of books to children every year and in most instances these kids are getting their own books for the very first time,” Burton said.
“The amount of money that we raised here on the show is going to make a huge difference in the life of many, many kids, and I can’t wait to give them that check.”
“Jeopardy!” has donated $2,205,826 to its guest hosts’ charities of choice, including $164,410 to the bone marrow registry Be The Match from “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts’ weeklong stint as host, which concluded Friday.
The show also matched the $250,000 grand prize for the 2021“Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions and donated that amount to the Hope of the Valley Trebek Center for the Homeless at the former site of the Skateland roller rink in Northridge. The purchase of the rink was financed in part by a $500,000 donation from Trebek and his wife, Jean.