After a 15-year break, the classic kids’ show Reading Rainbow is finally returning. The new show, called Reading Rainbow Live, will follow the original show’s structured use of dance parties, field trips, and books to engage kids in learning. That said, it will feature an expanded cast of young hosts and a live, interactive format.
Unfortunately, LeVar Burton is not involved with Reading Rainbow Live. He encountered some legal problems when trying to revive the show in 2016, mainly because he didn’t hold a license to produce new Reading Rainbow episodes and launched a (successful) crowdfunding campaign without permission from WNED-TV. Additionally, LeVar Burton was sued for using his Reading Rainbow tagline on his podcast, though he’s now legally allowed to use the phrase.
LeVar Burton’s absence may have little to do with these disputes, though. As explained by creative director Amy Guglielmo, the creators behind Reading Rainbow Live really “want kids and viewers to see themselves in this show.” That’s why it’s employing a diverse group of young hosts, called “Rainbows,” to run various episodes and segments. (You can apply to be a Rainbow, by the way.)
Introducing Reading Rainbow LIVE🌈#ReadingRainbowLive is a fun, interactive and educational experience that utilizes modern technology to invite viewers into the screen to interact with each other and our cast of RAINBOWS! pic.twitter.com/fgn5aDopQI
— Reading Rainbow (@readingrainbow) December 7, 2021
Details on the show are still a bit slim, but participating audience members can dance to music, answer questions, or ask the cast members questions. It’s like old-fashioned kids’ shows with a live audience or guests … but mixed with a Zoom call.
There are some other strange factors at play here. It seems that Reading Rainbow Live may not show up on any streaming services, and may instead stream on its website or in an app. Also, the Reading Rainbow Live website has a “registration” page that offers “a special discount code to use when tickets go live.” Will parents have to pay for the “interactive” part of Reading Rainbow Live, or do you need tickets to watch the show?
Amy Guglielmo says that Reading Rainbow Live will debut in early 2022. The show is still looking for cast members and “Rainbows,” and if you feel up to the task, you can apply on Playbill.