The story of the popular children’s education program Reading Rainbow will be examined in an upcoming documentary from studio XTR. Called Butterfly in the sky, the studio’s goal with the film is to “honor the show’s legacy and teach younger generations about this milestone in television history in our current era of distance learning.” Of course, the show’s host LeVar Burton will be heavily featured with archive footage and new interviews.
Together with Tag Burton, Butterfly in the sky includes interviews with the major TV stations, educators and filmmakers involved in Reading Rainbow and believed in its message to encourage reading among young viewers. Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb (GLOW: The story of the beautiful ladies in wrestling, Jasper Mall) instructs doc. A Side-by-Side Films Production, the film is produced by Bryan Storkel (Alabama snake, The Legend of Cocaine Island) and executive produced by XTRs Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob and Kathryn Everett.
“Reading Rainbow was my window into the big city and into different cultures, “Whitcomb said in a statement. With segments like those in ‘Hill of Fire’, ‘Liang and the Magic Paintbrush’ and countless other episodes, Reading Rainbow was without a doubt the first time I came across TV in ‘documentary style’ as a youngster and planted 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. “
Thomason added: “As a Mexican-American who grew up in Houston, I was always surrounded by diversity. More than any television program, Reading Rainbow reflected the cultures that surrounded me. When the book fair came to my school, I went straight for that Reading Rainbow titles. I did not know it then, but the show’s mission statement manifested itself in me. I swallow books to this day and I know it Reading Rainbow had a hand in it. “
“We are honored to say that Reading Rainbow history and document the show’s incredible work to increase children’s reading skills around the world, “said Lacob, head of development at XTR, as well. Decades later, the impact of Reading Rainbow still living through my lifelong love of reading that I share with my own children. “
Reading Rainbow premiered on PBS in 1983 and would continue to last for 21 seasons, ending its run in 2006. It was hosted by LeVar Burton, who left his acclaimed role in Roots with the actor along with well-known special guests who dive into a different children’s book with each section. The series is designed to encourage reading with children and has won 26 Emmy Awards, including 10 for excellent children’s series.
News of this documentary follows LeVar Burton’s campaign to host Jeopardy! which ultimately did not happen. With fans craving the show to get him in as host after Alex Trebek’s death, Burton served as a temporary guest host for a week in the summer. It was later announced that executive producer Mike Richards would host the show permanently, though he has since left the series entirely. Mayim Bialik has been brought back to fill in for Richards, and there is still no word on whether Burton will host again before a new full-time host is named.
It is not clear when Butterfly in the sky will be released. Meanwhile, for more from Burton, fans can check out his podcast LeVar Burton Reads, which features Burton diving into new stories in each episode. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.