LeVar Burton has landed a new hosting gig!
The Reading Rainbow star, 64, has been tapped to host both the semifinals and finals of the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee on June 1 and 2, respectively.
“Hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be an honor,” Burton said. “Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence.”
Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, added that selecting Burton to host the 2022 event “aligns with the mission” of the bee itself.
“To have such a prominent advocate for children’s literacy involved in this special and unique competition is a perfect match,” Durnil said. “We have the same goals: to educate tomorrow’s leaders and build reading competency in all young people.”
In October, the Scripps National Spelling Bee announced that the upcoming competition would air live for the first time on ION and Bounce, which are owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. The bee had previously aired on ESPN platforms since 1994.
“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,” said Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson in a press release addressing the change.
“As the Bee’s viewership expands through the diverse and fast-growing audiences of ION and Bounce, it is better positioned to connect with the next generation of spellers watching along,” Symson added.
Prior to the announcement, Burton told the Associated Press that he wasted no time agreeing to taking over as host when approached about the opportunity.
“I want to normalize the pursuit of knowledge in this culture. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, would it?” the Star Trek alum said in the interview. “Not just making stuff up and calling it a fact. Achievement through knowledge, scholarship, putting in the work to gain the reward.”
In November, Hasbro’s content studio Entertainment One announced that Burton would host and produce a new show based on the classic game Trivial Pursuit.
At the time, Burton said in a statement that he is “thrilled to have partnered with Hasbro and eOne to bring this beloved game to market as a premium show for television.”
Burton was also considered for the hosting gig at Jeopardy! after Alex Trebek died in November 2020. Though he ultimately was not chosen, the Emmy winner told Trevor Noah on a September episode of The Daily Show that he was looking forward to the opportunities ahead of him.
“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something, 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. Well, what’s next?’”
He continued, “The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up. I couldn’t 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!?’”