Elizabeth Wellington: LeVar Burton's first night hosting 'Jeopardy!' gave me the Gen X goosebumps

Elizabeth Wellington, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

And my mom still watches it every night. When I’m visiting, I watch it with her. My mother was — and still is — a "Jeopardy!" whiz. She’s that lady who yells the final answer at the television accompanying it with a smart comment, or two, to the loser.

Perhaps the loser should have watched "Reading Rainbow" as a child. But I digress.

Burton’s appearance on "Jeopardy!" this week is one of those pop-culture moments that’s bringing my life full circle. A bona fide silver fox now, Burton was impeccably dressed in an olive suit and matching striped tie Monday night for his first go behind the "Jeopardy!" lectern.

He was clearly nervous at the beginning of the show, but that’s understandable. After all, the man is auditioning for what could be considered the smartest job on television. After a bumbling first few minutes, though, Burton quickly regained composure. The right answers rolled off his tongue, and he chatted it up with contestants like an old pro.

Burton was made to be the next host of "Jeopardy!" And I’m not alone in stanning for him. Back in April, "Jeopardy!" producers added him to the tryout lineup after 250,000 fans signed a petition urging them to make him the next host. I know Gen X has something to do with this. Who says we don’t have any sway?

But what did mom think?

“He was good,” my mom said hesitantly Monday night as we debriefed Burton’s performance. She added: “I need him to calm down a bit, though. If he’s nervous, I’m nervous. If he’s tense, I’m tense. He doesn’t give the answers as fast as I need him to. I need him to validate what I already know quicker.”


“But mom, LeVar knows everything,” I said. “You, LeVar Burton, and Morgan Freeman [Easy Reader on "Electric Company"] taught me everything I know about reading.”

My 73-year-old mother took a beat before responding.

“Yeah, but I’m rooting for Aaron Rodgers,” she said. “Why not give the millennials a chance?”

Oh brother!


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