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Fans begin online petition to have LeVar Burton host 'Jeopardy!'

Actor LeVar Burton said he was "very flattered"

Actor LeVar Burton said he was "very flattered" by the petition seeking he join "Jeopardy!" as the game show's new host. Credit: Getty Images / Rich Fury

Following the death earlier this month of iconic "Jeopardy!" game-show host Alex Trebek, nearly 85,000 people have signed an online petition to have actor LeVar Burton succeed him.

"Between hosting 21 seasons of the educational [TV program] Reading Rainbow, playing the brainiac engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: the Next Generation, and filling the roll [sic] of Kunta Kinte in the ever important miniseries Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds," reads the petition posted Nov. 9 by one Joshua Sanders, who hopes to convince "Jeopardy!" producers Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mike Richards and Harry Friedman of "just how much love the public has for Burton, and how much we'd all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!"

Burton, 63, who burst into public attention and earned an Emmy Award nomination as the teen star of the classic 1977 miniseries "Roots," responded on Twitter, linking to the petition and writing, "Even if nothing comes from it, I can't tell how much how I appreciate all y'alls love and support!"

He later tweeted, "Of course while I'm very flattered by the petition, my thoughts are definitely with Alex Trebeck's [sic] family and his millions of fans and the devastating loss of this irreplaceable legend. #LongLiveAlex."

Actor Sean Astin ("The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy) enthusiastically endorsed Burton, tweeting Saturday, "#CivilRights Advocacy takes many shapes. This extraordinary human being Hosting Jeopardy would be an incredible contribution to our cultural landscape," and linking to the petition.

Almost immediately after Trebek's death from pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8 at age 80, speculation began on who his successor might be. Gambling websites have given favorable odds to former "Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings, whose 74-game winning streak netting $2.52 million has made him synonymous with the show, as well as to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

Banked episodes with Trebek hosting will continue for several weeks, with the last of what will be more than 8,200 episodes scheduled to air on Christmas Day.

From 1983 to 2006, Burton hosted the acclaimed PBS children's series "Reading Rainbow," in which he would read children's books that would play out in animated or live-action segments including songs and celebrity narration. During the program's long run, the series earned 26 Daytime Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.

Burton also endeared himself to TV and film audiences as helmsman and later chief engineer of the USS Enterprise in the science-fiction series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-94) and its movie and video game spinoffs.

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