It's a world many don't want to live in, but it's true: Jon Stewart can't host The Daily Show forever. We'll get our first taste of extended life without the 14-year Comedy Central anchor this summer when he takes an unprecedented 12 weeks off to direct his first movie. Even Stewart himself called it "a little scary."
Deadline's Mike Fleming reports Stewart will go on hiatus from his Daily Show duties for three months this summer to direct Rosewater, based on the book Then They Came For Me. The film will follow the story of then-Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, the book's author, who in June 2009 left his pregnant wife in London to report on Iran's elections. He ended up spending over 100 days in a prison camp being interrogated by a man who smelled like, you guessed it, rosewater. They accused him of being a spy planning to overthrow the government — at least partly because of a sketch Bahari participated in on The Daily Show, just days before leaving home.
So, who gets to fill Stewart's chair in his absence? No, Stephen Colbert is not pulling double duty, as much as he would love the idea. Senior British Corespondent John Oliver will be taking over, with eight weeks worth of shows to keep fans' appetites at bay. The rest will be standard Daily Show vacation. (Come on, they don't even work Fridays.)
Life without Stewart's nightly musings can be difficult. He and Colbert also take extended holiday vacations and time with their families, which can be vexing for those on both sides. Yes, there are some who say Stewart has lost a step and should hand over the desk he inherited from, uh, Craig Kilborn in 1999. But there are others, members of a certain generation, who think those people are silly and wrong. So despite a penchant for too-long hiatus hangovers, this is the first time fans have faced a preview of a post-Stewart apocalypse. (Well, at least since the great writer's strike of 2007 and 2008, but that was over said extended holiday.) There was the horrible alternate reality posed by Stewart in December when, at a fundraising Q&A, Stewart said he almost quit The Daily Show when he was first hired all those years ago. Thankfully, that did not happen.
And thankfully it doesn't sound like Stewart is eyeing Hollywood for the long term. "I am a television person who is accustomed to having a thought at 10 a.m. and having it out there at 6:30 p.m. and moving on, so this is a little scary, yes," Stewart told The New York Times' Brooks Barnes in an interview after word leaked of his next move. But Stewart's mind is starting to wander a little from that television routine. This is about tackling a new challenge, he said, one of the reasons he's in the entertainment business. He's not letting any golden expectations get to him, though. Scott Rudin, one of Rosewater's producers, won an Oscar in 2008 for No Country of Old Men, the same year Stewart hosted the show. Asked about the potential the two might share the Oscar stage again, Stewart replied: "Oh, yes, because that is a great expectation to put on a first-time director."
Stewart did a two-part interview with Bahari on his book in 2011. You can watch the whole thing right here: