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LeVar Burton will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the new children's Emmys

LeVar Burton has won 12 Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award for his work as the host and executive producer of the longtime PBS children's program <em>Reading Rainbow. </em>
Rachel M. Heimerman
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Rachel M. Heimerman
LeVar Burton has won 12 Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award for his work as the host and executive producer of the longtime PBS children's program <em>Reading Rainbow. </em>

LeVar Burton, the beloved former Reading Rainbow host, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Children's and Family Emmys in December, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced this week.

Burton took on executive producer and hosting duties for the PBS kids' program in 1983. On the show, Burton read books, conducted interviews and explained current events to children. The show aired for 23 years, and has won 12 Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award.

"Whoa," Burton said on Twitter in reaction to the Lifetime Achievement Award, announced on Tuesday.

The Children's and Family Emmys is the first standalone Emmy awards show since the Sports Emmy Awards and the News & Documentary Emmy Awards were founded in 1979, the NATAS said.

Until now, children's programs were typically nominated for Daytime Emmys.

The Children's and Family Emmys will take place Dec. 11 in Los Angeles.

After Reading Rainbow was canceled in 2006, Burton signed a licensing agreement with WNED to develop digital products for the Reading Rainbow brand.

Through his company RRKidz, he launched the Reading Rainbow app. Then he began a Kickstarter campaign under the banner "Bring Reading Rainbow Back." Within 24 hours the campaign reached its goal of $1 million. At the time, it was the most widely supported Kickstarter campaign ever. It ended up raising more than $5 million.

But WNED sued Burton, alleging contract and trademark violations. They said he created new Reading Rainbow episodes and talked to Netflix without their permission. They even took issue with him still using the catch phrase, "But, you don't have to take my word for it."

The program is now being rebooted as Reading Rainbow Live, hosted 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 television series.

More recently, Burton guest hosted Jeopardy! 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 be hosting the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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