Butterfly in the Sky: Levar Burton-Hosted Reading Rainbow is Getting a Documentary

LeVar-Burton reading rainbow

There is a documentary in the works on Reading Rainbow, the 80s children program hosted by LeVar Burton.

Titled Butterfly in the Sky, Jasper Mall duo Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb are directing the documentary. The film will feature archival footage and interviews with Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton along with the major broadcasters, educators, and filmmakers involved in the show that encouraged a love of books and reading among children.

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“Reading Rainbow was my window into the big city and into diverse cultures,” said Brett Whitcomb. “With segments like those in “Hill of Fire,” “Liang and the Magic Paintbrush,” and countless other episodes, Reading Rainbow was arguably the first time I encountered “documentary-style” television as a young person, planting a seed that would inspire me for the rest of my life and lead me to where I am in my career to this day.”

“As a Mexican-American growing up in Houston, I was always surrounded by diversity,” said Bradford Thomason. “More than any show on television, Reading Rainbow reflected the cultures that surrounded me. When the book fair came to my school, I went straight for the Reading Rainbow titles. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show’s mission statement was manifesting itself in me. I devour books to this day and I know Reading Rainbow had a hand in that.”

Sidestilt Films is producing the project along with Bryan Storkel. XTR’s Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob and Kathryn Everett exec producing.

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After making its debut in 1983, the famed television program Reading Rainbow went on to achieve a 26-year run, became the most-watched PBS program in the classroom and win over 250 awards including 26 Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award, among other honors.

News of the documentary arrives as Burton comes off a guest hosting stint on Jeopardy! that was the direct byproduct of an overwhelming fan campaign calling on Sony Pictures Television to make him Alex Trebek’s successor. His fans argued that Burton educational work on Reading Rainbow made him the perfect candidate to host the once-revered quiz show.

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