Few remember (or, at least, acknowledge) that The Daily Show existed for some years before Jon Stewart took over hosting duties from Craig Kilborn in 1999. Under Stewart’s leadership, the late-night comedy news program grew into a genuine cultural institution.
After nearly a decade-and-a-half of hosting The Daily Show, Stewart will be stepping down – at least, for a little while. It looks as if the comedian will be taking a three-month break from hosting the show in order to pursue a rather different stage in his career.
The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Jon Stewart plans to take a hiatus from hosting The Daily Show over the summer of 2013. He will use this time to direct his first feature film, titled Rosewater.
In Stewart’s place, Daily Show correspondent John Oliver will be sitting in the show’s hosting chair. Both a writer and presenter for The Daily Show since 2006, Oliver has proven himself a wry and clever comedian. Oliver’s promotion could hint at changes to come – after all, big comic names such as Steve Carell (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), Ed Helms (The Hangover Part III), and Stephen Colbert (Mr. Peabody & Sherman) all found initial fame via The Daily Show.
The film that Stewart will be directing is an entirely different animal than almost anything in his career. Rosewater is based off the best-selling nonfiction book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival. The book tells the story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-British journalist who was imprisoned and tortured in Iran’s most infamous prison in 2009. Bound and blindfolded during his interrogation sessions, Bahari could only identify his main tormentor by the scent of the cologne he wore – rosewater.
Does Stewart’s decision to take time off from The Daily Show indicate that he’s gearing up for a new phase in his career? His attachment to such a dramatic debut feature does seem to indicate that he intends to go in a different creative direction. This seems especially strange, given the host’s previous involvement in offbeat and comedic features such as Half-Baked. Will he be able to pull off heavy, painful material – even from behind the camera?
Until his actual departure from (and subsequent return to) The Daily Show, Stewart’s creative future is up in the air. At the very least, audiences can be assured that the show will be in good hands with John Oliver. As for Rosewater, we’ll have to wait and see if this three-month hiatus bears worthwhile fruit.
Kyle Hembree blogs at Screen Rant.