Rachel M. Heimerman/Rachel M. Heimerman
LeVar Burton, the former beloved reading rainbow host, will receive a lifetime achievement award at the inaugural Children & Family Emmy Awards in December, the Television Academy announced this week.
Burton served as executive producer and host of the PBS Children’s Program in 1983. On the show, Burton read books, conducted interviews, and explained current affairs to children. The show aired for 23 years and won 12 Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award.
“Wow”, Burton said on Twitter in response to the Lifetime Achievement Award, announced Tuesday.
The Children’s and Family Emmys is the first standalone Emmy awards show since the Sports Emmy Awards and News & Documentary Emmy Awards were established in 1979, the Television Academy said.
Until now, children’s programs were usually nominated for Daytime Emmys.
The Children and Family Emmy Awards will take place on December 11 in Los Angeles.
After Reading Rainbow was canceled in 2006, Burton signed a license agreement with WNED to develop digital products for the reading rainbow brand.
Through his company RRKidz, he launched the reading rainbow application. Then he started a Kickstarter campaign under the “Bring Reading Rainbow Back” banner. Within 24 hours, the campaign reached its goal of $1 million. At the time, it was the most widely supported Kickstarter campaign ever. He ended up raising over $5 million.
But WNED sued Burton, alleging contract and trademark violations. They said he created new reading rainbow episodes and spoke to Netflix without their permission. They even took issue with the fact that he still uses the catchphrase, “But, you don’t have to take my word for it.”
The program is now restarted as Live Rainbow Playhosted by a group of young adults named “The Rainbows”.
Burton’s decades-long career also includes his portrayal of Kunta Kinte in the 1977 ABC miniseries Roots, and Geordi La Forge in the 1986 Star Trek: The Next Generation TV shows.
Most recently, Burton’s guest hosted Peril! after the death of former host Alex Trebek in 2020. He was considered a fan favorite, but the job eventually went to a former winner, Ken Jennings, and actress Mayim Bialik.
In June, Burton will host the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.