People tend to associate LeVar Burton with different things, depending on their age. Some know him as the high-tech, visor-wearing Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation (which ended in 1994). Other might recall first professional role, as Kunta Kinte in the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries Roots. And for those who grew up in the '80s and '90s, the veteran actor is most known as the ever-affable host of the PBS educational series Reading Rainbow. You know, that one children's show whose earworm of a theme song goes a little something like this:
Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high
Take a look, it's in a book
It's Reading Rainbow...
These days Burton is working full-time to bring Reading Rainbow to a new generation of tech-savvy kids, via a recently released Reading Rainbow iPhone app. That's in addition to playing a recurring role as a university dean on TNT's newest crime drama Perception, which stars Eric McCormack as a schizophrenic college professor who helps the FBI solve crimes. "It's been a while since I've been on television," says LeVar, who must not be counting his brief guest appearance as himself in Community's "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking." "I love the idea, I love the fact Ken Billard and Mike Sussman, Perception's executive producers, are looking through the lens of this character-driven procedural, looking at the issue of mental illness and hopefully be able to create a conversation as well as a discussion around it in America."
And now, here are Burton's five favorite television shows, in no particular order...
"It was a weekly variety sketch comedy. Started the career of Goldie Hawn, and it was the first time a president ever appeared on a variety show. This was groundbreaking television."
"Also in the same vein as Laugh-In, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was another groundbreaking piece of television. If you don't know it, Google it—just Google it, baby."
"One of my favorite cop shows with Robert Blake. The character was cool, he was from the streets, working as a cop and he had a parrot for God's sake."
"Groundbreaking television. This nation's consciousness around slavery and its legacy around racism were completely transformed."
"They were cops masquerading as high-school students, but were super cool. Clarence Williams III had the biggest afro on television, and Piggy Lipton and Michael Cole, both were freakin' cool."
What do you think of Burton's picks? Did any of them surprise you?
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