In a wide-ranging New York Times interview, Burton discussed badly wanting the Jeopardy! job, plus his career from Roots to Reading Rainbow to Star Trek: The Next Generation. "It’s difficult to explain, but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense," Burton says of Jeopardy!, which he'll guest-host the week of July 26. "I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Fleming hosted the game show for a total of 12 years before Alex Trebek took the reins, which he held for 37 years. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant. Look, I have had a career for the (expletive) ages. Roots, Star Trek, Reading Rainbow. Won a Grammy. For Best Spoken Word Album in 2000 for The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. Got a shelf full of Emmys. I’m a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There’s a contest, there’s comedy, there’s drama. If you don’t know your (expletive) on Jeopardy! you’re sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that." Burton was also asked if it "complicate(s) the image of you as almost a secular pop-culture saint like Alex Trebek or Fred Rogers" since he's written a 1997 novel, titled Aftermath, about a United States recovering from a series of catastrophic events, including violent racial conflicts after the assassination of the nation's first Black president-elect by a white extremist. "Wow. I love talking to people who have taken the time to read my book. I’m enormously proud of it," says Burton. "I just recorded a digital version of it with a new author’s note. I threw out the old author’s note about how I came to be a science-fiction fan and instead addressed the time in which we find ourselves now and some of the ways in which the events at the beginning of the novel are kind of prescient." What if Burton doesn't get the job? "It will hurt," he says. "I’m not going to lie. But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It’s all going to be OK. Because it always is."