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Who will host the next Scripps National Spelling Bee? L-E-V-A-R

Actor LeVar Burton, attending an event in Hollywood in Jan. 2020.
David Livingston
Getty Images
Actor LeVar Burton, attending an event in Hollywood in Jan. 2020.

Actor LeVar Burton's status as a champion for literacy is not in jeopardy: He's just been named as the next host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Burton is the former longtime host and executive producer of PBS' iconic Reading Rainbow and a beloved actor from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the miniseries Roots.

He was a fan favorite among those contending to become the new host of Jeopardy! in the aftermath of Alex Trebek's death, and served as aguest host for the quiz show last July. After a mangled selection process, Jeopardy! is now being hosted by former winner Ken Jennings and actress Mayim Bialik.

During the pandemic, Burton has also hosted live Twitter streams and podcasts featuring him reading aloud to children, teenagers and adults.

Burton, an Emmy and Grammy award winner, will host the spelling bee finals June 1 and 2 at a location near Washington, D.C., Scripps announced Thursday.

In a press release, the bee's executive director, said: "To have such a prominent advocate for children's literacy involved in this special and unique competition is a perfect match. We have the same goals: to educate tomorrow's leaders and build reading competency in all young people."

"Hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be an honor," Burton said in the release. "Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence."

In recent years, bee hosts have come from the ranks of ESPN, which broadcast the event for 27 years. (The national bee finals were canceled in 2020, due to the pandemic.) As of 2022, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will instead air on Ion and Bounce—two channels owned by Scripps.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.