The former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow” star is set to guest host the popular game show this week after a fan petition was signed by more than 257,000 people requesting he be the man to fill the massive shoes left behind by Trebek after he died in November of 2020.
Although he previously thanked fans on Twitter for thinking of him, he once again expressed his gratitude on Monday. Speaking on “Good Morning America,” Burton explained that he feels honored that his fans thought of him for the position, calling himself the “beneficiary of amazing grace.”
“I’ve been asked over the past couple of weeks, ‘what is this about?’” he explained. “And I think it has something to do with the fact that this generation of adults that have grown up on ‘Reading Rainbow’ think I’ve made an investment in them and they are hoping to return the favor.”
Burton was asked by fellow “Jeopardy!” guest hosts Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos if the show falls into the category of educational TV that he’s become so synonymous with over the years.
“This is what I’ve been doing my entire career, for 45 years I’ve tried to use the medium of television to do more than just entertain,” Burton explained. “I know that we have the opportunity, when we do it with consciousness, to inform, to enlighten, to educate, to even uplift ourselves with the stories we tell one another. I see ‘Jeopardy!’ as absolutely in the sweet spot of that Venn diagram.”
As for the notion of permanently taking over for Trebek, Burton didn’t rule out the possibility. However, he noted that his first run as guest host taught him that people can fill in for the late host, but there is absolutely no replacing him.
“For me, my standard of excellence is so intense that my initial approach was to try and be as good as Alex was,” he confessed. “Of course, I realized right away that was an impossibility. The man had 37 years to perfect his mastery.”