Everybody from my generation has fond memories of Reading Rainbow. Why? It's because, when our teachers were too hungover from dancing to the rhythm of the night at fluorescent 80's cocaine parties, they could always take a day for themselves by dimming the lights, hushing the little ingrates, and just letting good old Levar Burton take the wheel for an hour. This wasn't just a great excuse for them to get a little midday shuteye, it was also a great excuse for us to get a little midday shuteye. I've probably been lulled into REM sleep by the soothing tones of Levar Burton well over a hundred times in my life. Even now, I'll find myself nodding off during the occasional Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun.
"Seeya in your dreams... or your nightmares..."
So, it makes sense that, when we heard that Levar Burton was doing a Kickstarter to raise money for a Reading Rainbow revival, we were all over it. Then, when we took a look at the rewards program, we got a little creeped out. This Kickstarter, it seems, is not screwing around. Once you get into the upper pledge levels, the rewards see you become increasingly, almost uncomfortably intimate with Levar Burton.
At $275, Levar sends you a personalized headshot from your choice of Roots, Star Trek, or just plain old Levar. I'm pretty sure that they're gonna sell out of the Star Trek ones.
"This is going right on the mantle!"
At $375, Levar will follow you on Twitter for a year! This is just odd. Keep Levar abreast of whatever bullshit you've been up to, for some reason! Shock Levar with your political opinions! Troll him with anti-reading propaganda! Dissappoint him with your awful life choices! Explain to him how you made $2200 dollars a week using the internet! Tell him to ask you how!
""Look what you did! You made him cry! Right there!"
At $400, Levar will record a personalized voicemail message for your incoming calls. Now, I'm guessing that Levar is writing the copy on this one, so it's unlikely that you're gonna get him to pull the trigger on the epic 30-second Kunta Kinte/Jordy comedy extravaganza you have written for him, but I'm sure he'd choose something appropriately nostalgic and sweet.
"You've reached the International House of dicks. To speak to a dick, leave your number. This is Levar Burton."
At $700 it starts getting a little weird. For $700, you get to have a 5-10 minute skype chat with Levar. I have no doubt that this would be one of the most awkward conversations of your life. What exactly do you have to talk about with Levar Burton? Very little. That's probably why Levar reserves the right to disconnect your ass after 5 minutes. He's a busy man. Not to mention, I'm sure that SOMEONE out there will use this as an opportunity to show Levar Burton their penis. He won't be impolite. You paid $700 dollars. I'm sure he'll use the opportunity to teach you something about penises that you didn't know. Then again, I know nothing of Levar Burton: the man, so, as far as I know, this may be the best way to keep him online for the full 10.
"I'm fully erect right now, but don't take my word for it..."
At $1500, you and a guest get to join Levar and a small group of backers for a picnic lunch in LA (presumably by the scenic LA river). I can't lie, this sounds pretty badass. Chilling out in the sunshine with Levar Burton, eating some potato salad (possibly prepared by Levar Burton), maybe tossing the ball around a little bit (presumably in a West Indian version of soccer that Levar will teach us), maybe later Levar will whip out his classical guitar and jam out some Fogerty. If that's not a goddamn Saturday then I don't know what is.
"How's the potato salad? Did I use too much mayo? Tell me now."
At $2500, you get to go to the picnic AND appear with Levar in a Reading Rainbow video field trip. I cannot even imagine this. It would be like stepping back through childhood and into an 80's television. Reality would collapse in on itself under crushing waves of nostalgia. I don't even care where we go. Farm? Sure. Milk factory? Why not? Mexican Flea Market? I guess! Look, as long as I get to wear a backwards baseball cap and loads of neon, I'll be a happy camper.
"and then they turn the cows into milk! I'll admit, I didn't have time to do the full research on this one."
At $3750, you join Levar for a private dinner. I feel like candlelight is heavily implied here. The previously awkward 5-10 minute skype call now seems miles more appropriate. I truly cannot imagine why you would pay this much for this opportunity if you're not planning to seduce Levar. Levar must be aware of this. Maybe he's into it. In fact, I suspect that at this point there may very well be a further series of unlisted pledge rewards. For $5000, Levar will give you a deep-tissue hot oil message. For $6500, you can put on the Jordy goggles and Levar will ride you around the room like a steer. For $7850, Levar will let you put the tip in. And I think we can just safely assume that a flat ten grand will provide you with unlimited use of Levar Burton. Like an all access pass to the theme park that is Levar Burton. I can't say that it's definitely worth ten thousand dollars. It's probably worth far more.
"Who's ready for some pasta?"
Here's a crazy little piece of trivia: Did you know that Levar Burton is apparently the highest paid actor in the world? That's what it says here. Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr... I guess Levar Burton leaves em' all weeping into their expensive liqueurs (I just assume that rich people only drink fancy liqueurs in flavors like 'honeysuckle/money' and 'the scent of poor men's fear'). Apparently, between June 2013 and June 2014, Levar Burton has made 43 million dollars, bringing his net worth to a 'holy shit' 143 million (he could buy the literal rainbow). Beyond his large stock portfolio and substantial property holdings, Levar also owns (I swear to God) a chain of restaurants called "Fat Burton Burger" (with meat presumably culled from overfed Levar Burton clones), his own brand of vodka called "Pure WonderBurton" (crafted from the naturally intoxicating essence of Mr. Levar Burton), a top-selling perfume for children called "With Love From Levar" (essentially just the vodka in a spray bottle), and a fashion line called "Levar Burton's Seduction" (how funny would it be if this was just a line of socks?). You know, it really begs the question, why didn't he just pay for his own damn Reading Rainbow?
"That money is strictly for ballin'."
You know, in the end, I'm not 100% certain that Levar Burton didn't just organize this entire scenario simply because he's lonely.