'Reading Rainbow' reboots without LeVar Burton

New live, interactive format set to stream this weekend
Posted at 7:32 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 09:54:07-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Public media producer WNED-TV is launching a new version of the iconic children's literacy series "Reading Rainbow" this weekend.

However, it will be a world of difference from the program millennial children will remember.

Chiefly, original host and one-time series producer LeVar Burton will not be involved. In addition, the show will not air on public television stations. The memorable theme song is apparently out in favor of a new piece. And perhaps most eyebrow-raising - the show will be live and a paid event.

"Reading Rainbow Live" will be hosted by group of five twentysomethings called, collectively, "The Rainbows."

It will stream Sunday on a platform called Looped and is described as an interactive "event" full of music, dancing, and games. Tickets are being sold for the experience. Buyers will have 30-day access to an on-demand version afterward.

As National Public Radio reports, Burton created digital tie-ins with the Reading Rainbow brand in a deal with WNED after the show's PBS cancellation. But in the intervening years, WNED sued him for allegedly producing new episodes and talking with Netflix about a reboot without their consent. The case was eventually settled.

A report from the New York Times (paywall) says there are ten monthly episodes planned for "Live's" first season.