LeVar Burton reveals ‘real challenge’ of guest hosting ‘Jeopardy!’

I’ll take challenging jobs for $1,000.

Actor LeVar Burton says he’s jumped out of airplanes and walked over hot coals.

But little prepared him for the pressure of hosting “Jeopardy!”

“This was a real challenge,” the actor told The Associated Press.

Even his wife and makeup artist, Stephanie Cozart Burton, was not impressed by his initial effort.

“I came backstage after taping the first episode and I said to Stephanie, ‘Well, how did I do?’

“She said, ‘ehhh.’”

Burton, known for his roles in “Roots,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow,” is one of several celebrities openly vying to replace the iconic Alex Trebek as host of “Jeopardy!”

Trebek hosted the show from 1984 until his death in November 2020. Art Fleming led “Jeopardy!” in the 1960s and 1970s and is the show’s only other full-time host.

Alex Trebek
Trebek was a widely beloved host of the show before his death.
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AP

Burton received just one day of rehearsal before taping five episodes in one day. Those shows will air this week, starting Monday. Other celebrities who have tried out for the job include Katie Couric, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Aaron Rodgers.

Burton’s effort to become the next full-time host was boosted by an online petition that generated more than 250,000 signatures.

The show is much different once you get behind the podium, said Burton.

“Being at home, it feels like really relaxed half hour, but it’s not relaxed at all,” he said. “You can’t let your focus drop for a nanosecond.”

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Burton's wife gave him a lukewarm review of his first "Jeopardy!" taping.
Burton’s wife gave him a lukewarm review of his first “Jeopardy!” taping.
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His comfort level quickly improved after a tough first taping.

“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.”

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