LeVar Burton guest hosts 'Jeopardy!' and fans are rallying to boost his ratings

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NBC News 26 July, 2021 - 03:54pm 40 views

Who is the next jeopardy guest host?

— “Jeopardy!” has announced that LeVar Burton, the former host and executive producer of “Reading Rainbow,” will be next to guest host the game show. silive.com‘Jeopardy!’ guest host list: LeVar Burton takes over next; here’s the full remaining schedule

Mason was born Yacov Moshe Maza in, of all places, Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1928. (With all due respect to Sheboyganites, it sounds like he was born funny.) His parents were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, and his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were rabbis. At the age of five, the family moved to Henry Street on New York’s Lower East Side, then a primarily Jewish neighborhood. He trained to be a rabbi, as did his three brothers.

In The World According to Me, he described his transition to comedy as a way of being “more honest to himself.” He would deliver sermons, then start “to tell a few jokes here and there.” He ribbed, “to make it more palatable for myself, and as the jokes were getting better and better, I started to charge a cover and a minimum.”

Jokes aside, he waited until his father passed away before heading to the Catskill Mountains, where predominantly Jewish audiences from New York would spend summers in bungalow colonies (see: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). By the early 1960s, he was bringing his act to television as a guest on The Steve Allen Show and The Perry Como Show. Most notably, he had a recurring spot on the biggest show of the era, The Ed Sullivan Show.

In one notorious incident in 1964, Sullivan, off-camera, held up two fingers as a “wrap it up in two minutes” signal. Mason, however, was cooking and turned it into a bit. “I’m getting a lot of fingers tonight,” he said before pointing fingers back. (“Here’s a finger for you, and a finger for you.”) Sullivan interpreted this as an “obscene gesture” and fired him.

This led to Mason filing a defamation lawsuit. While the two eventually mended fences—and Mason appeared on Sullivan’s show five more times—the incident tarnished Mason’s career. He popped up occasionally on the big screen, including as the voice of a robot tailor alongside Myron Cohen in Woody Allen’s Sleeper, the gas station manager in Carl Reiner-Steve Martin collaboration The Jerk, and a persecuted Jew in Mel Brooks’s The History of the World — Part I. But he went back to working clubs for roughly two decades.

His unusual style of comedy eventually found purchase on Broadway in 1986. The World According To Me was essentially a lengthy curmudgeon’s rant, where Mason leaned into his Yiddish accent. Mason would slip in caustic remarks by couching them in preposterous brackets, suggesting he would never, ever want to suggest something like—then he’d say the horrible thing. He’d double back to remark that only a terrible person would laugh. Another technique of his was to drop a heavy philosophical question like, “why is there hatred in the world?” He’d let it settle on the quiet audience, then point to a random person and say: “I’m asking you.”

The show was an unexpected phenomenon, winning him a special Tony Award, a Grammy nomination, and an Emmy for writing when the show was adapted for an HBO special. A short-lived sitcom, Chicken Soup, opposite Lynn Redgrave, aired on ABC in 1989.

In 1991, Mason made his first of 11 voice-over appearances as Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, Krusty the Clown’s father on The Simpsons. That episode, “Like Father, Like Clown,” which won Mason another Emmy, was based on the classic film, The Jazz Singer, but traded sprayed seltzer for singing. Mason continued doing stand-up in big rooms around the globe and had four more Broadway runs over the years, the most recent being Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed in 2005, something of an ironic name, as many of the jokes were recycled from decades past.

Mason’s mouth off-stage earned him some criticism. In 1989, he referred to New York City’s eventual mayor David Dinkins as “a fancy shvartze with a mustache.” The Yiddish word “shvartze” is considered derogatory when used in that context, but Mason claimed the word simply meant “black.” He used the term again in 2009 in reference to President Barack Obama. Toward the end of his life, he would occasionally appear on Fox News, championing Donald Trump.

Mason lived for years in Metropolitan Tower on West 57th Street near Carnegie Hall with his wife Jyll Rosenfeld. It was there, in 2012, that Kaoru Suzuki-McMullen was arrested after attacking Mason in what was called a “jealous rage.” It was later revealed that the two, who both lived in the building, were dating. He was 83, and she was 48. At the time, the New York Post quoted Ginger Reiter, a former Mason girlfriend who claimed to be the mother of his “love child” (a claim Mason denied). She called Mason a sexual “dynamo” and added, “and he’s no Robert Redford.” Mason moved to a $4.1 million unit on Central Park South in 2017. 

On social media, Mason was remembered fondly by Jason Alexander, Gilbert Gottfried, Michael McKean, The Simpsons’s Al Jean, Harvey Fierstein, Judy Tenuta, and Henry Winkler.

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Levar Burton takes his shot as Jeopardy! host this week

CBS Boston 26 July, 2021 - 08:10pm

LeVar Burton Is A Fan Favorite To Host 'Jeopardy!' And It's Obvious Why

NPR 26 July, 2021 - 05:00am

Plenty of mere mortals want to host Jeopardy!

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example. And actor Mayim Bialik. And Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings. All intelligent, charismatic ... and in the running as the legendary trivia show tries out hopefuls before naming a new host.

This week, Burton takes his temporary place on the twinkling azure set ruled for 37 seasons by the beloved Alex Trebek. Or, some would say, his rightful place. No other potential replacement for Trebek, who died of pancreatic cancer in the objectively terrible year of 2020, has excited the popular imagination as much as Burton.

"If I was one of the other [potential] hosts, I'd be like, 'I'm going to step aside and give it to the man who gave kids a love of reading,' " says L.D. Lewis, a 35-year-old in Atlanta who grew up watching Burton on PBS' Reading Rainbow. She fondly remembers exploring the actor's back catalog with her father, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and the pioneering 1977 miniseries Roots.

"If you're a bookish person, a sci-fi person, a history person — he's been crucial in forming our identities," Lewis told NPR in a phone call after she tweeted support of Burton on behalf of the Black speculative fiction magazine FIYAH, where she's the art director.

We're watching @levarburton on Jeopardy next week as a family, right? pic.twitter.com/fXOPMNCAGm

"We're watching @levarburton on Jeopardy ... as a family, right?" she asked. Lewis, it turns out, is not only a super fan, she also is a researcher for Burton's short fiction podcast in which the actor reads works by Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemisin and many lesser-known authors.

Other co-workers enthusiastically supporting Burton's Jeopardy! ambitions include the former Star Trek castmates once known as Captain Janeway, Commander Riker and android second officer Data.

When is Jeopardy going to get it? The public wants @levarburton to host the show!

Those endorsements have been bolstered by more than a quarter of a million fan signatures on a still-active Change.org petition started in November, all eager to see the actor as permanent Jeopardy! host.

Meanwhile, Burton is now passionately campaigning for the job in online communities and in the media. It's worth wondering why he's even bothering — or why he even has to.

"It's difficult to explain, but there's something inside me that says this makes sense," Burton told The New York Times in an interview in June. "I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant."

In spite of having "a career for the ages," Burton told The Times it would be a blow not to get the Jeopardy! job. "It will hurt. I'm not going to lie," he said. "But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It's all going to be OK."

It's exactly that sort of spirit — which many admirers liken to another television icon, Mister Rogers — that will make fans tune in this week. Burton has said one of the many values he shares with Fred Rogers is a commitment to service.

LeVar Burton Is A Fan Favorite To Host 'Jeopardy!' And It's Obvious Why

Good Morning America 26 July, 2021 - 05:00am

Plenty of mere mortals want to host Jeopardy!

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example. And actor Mayim Bialik. And Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings. All intelligent, charismatic ... and in the running as the legendary trivia show tries out hopefuls before naming a new host.

This week, Burton takes his temporary place on the twinkling azure set ruled for 37 seasons by the beloved Alex Trebek. Or, some would say, his rightful place. No other potential replacement for Trebek, who died of pancreatic cancer in the objectively terrible year of 2020, has excited the popular imagination as much as Burton.

"If I was one of the other [potential] hosts, I'd be like, 'I'm going to step aside and give it to the man who gave kids a love of reading,' " says L.D. Lewis, a 35-year-old in Atlanta who grew up watching Burton on PBS' Reading Rainbow. She fondly remembers exploring the actor's back catalog with her father, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and the pioneering 1977 miniseries Roots.

"If you're a bookish person, a sci-fi person, a history person — he's been crucial in forming our identities," Lewis told NPR in a phone call after she tweeted support of Burton on behalf of the Black speculative fiction magazine FIYAH, where she's the art director.

We're watching @levarburton on Jeopardy next week as a family, right? pic.twitter.com/fXOPMNCAGm

"We're watching @levarburton on Jeopardy ... as a family, right?" she asked. Lewis, it turns out, is not only a super fan, she also is a researcher for Burton's short fiction podcast in which the actor reads works by Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, N.K. Jemisin and many lesser-known authors.

Other co-workers enthusiastically supporting Burton's Jeopardy! ambitions include the former Star Trek castmates once known as Captain Janeway, Commander Riker and android second officer Data.

When is Jeopardy going to get it? The public wants @levarburton to host the show!

Those endorsements have been bolstered by more than a quarter of a million fan signatures on a still-active Change.org petition started in November, all eager to see the actor as permanent Jeopardy! host.

Meanwhile, Burton is now passionately campaigning for the job in online communities and in the media. It's worth wondering why he's even bothering — or why he even has to.

"It's difficult to explain, but there's something inside me that says this makes sense," Burton told The New York Times in an interview in June. "I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant."

In spite of having "a career for the ages," Burton told The Times it would be a blow not to get the Jeopardy! job. "It will hurt. I'm not going to lie," he said. "But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It's all going to be OK."

It's exactly that sort of spirit — which many admirers liken to another television icon, Mister Rogers — that will make fans tune in this week. Burton has said one of the many values he shares with Fred Rogers is a commitment to service.

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