LeVar Burton Will Not Host ‘Jeopardy!' and Some Fans Are Mad

Fans took to social media to express their displeasure with the host decision, even award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

"Jeopardy!" has finally announced its new host – or hosts – and LeVar Burton fans are not happy with the decision.

After months of televised auditions and online debates, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards and “The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik were both named as replacements for the late Alex Trebek.

LeVar Burton, actor and host of the classic PBS show Reading Rainbow, became a contender for quizmaster after his name was tossed into the pool of potential hosts. Fans rallied behind Burton and started a petition to help push him to a permanent spot behind the podium. The petition gained more the 267,000 signatures, just shy of the campaign's goal of 300,000.

An online petition started by a fan and shared by Burton on Twitter this week calls for the long-time “Reading Rainbow” host to take the helm of the game show and has garnered over 175,000 signatures.

When Burton was not announced on Wednesday as one the show’s new hosts, fans took to social media to express their displeasure – even award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

“Me trying to create a show right in this moment for @levarburton to host and make an international hit,” the “When They See Us” director suggested in a tweet, in which Burton replied, “Check your DM’s!”

Whether or not the two are, in fact, working on a project together was not immediately known.

Some Burton and “Jeopardy!” fans immediately began publicly shunning Richards as host after learning he was a frontrunner. Fans then amped up their disapproval when past discrimination lawsuits against Richards resurfaced from his time on “The Price is Right."

Richards sent a memo to “Jeopardy!” staff members addressing the lawsuits, describing them as “employment disputes.”

"I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right," Richards wrote in the memo that was obtained by NBC News.

The ultimate host decision was made by a group of executives at Sony Pictures Television. The groups said their selection was made based on research from multiple panels and focus groups as well as input from the show’s partners and viewers.

"I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode," Richards vowed in a statement after the announcement was made.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” Bialik said. “What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life!"

Some of the other guest host included Katie Couric, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Whitaker, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, LeVar Burton, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Joe Buck, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Buzzy Cohen and David Faber.

Trebek, who hosted the show for 37 years, died last November at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer.

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