"Comic Stewart Set to Head CBS Talker"
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer
June 6, 1996
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After a curious delay, CBS officially announced yesterday that young comedian Jon Stewart has been signed by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants company to a deal that promises him, among other possibilities, a chance to start a new 1:35 a.m. talk show on CBS. "I am incredibly flattered by the opportunity to work with Dave and Worldwide Pants," Stewart said. "I can't express how much I admire his accomplishments. It happened so quickly I barely had time to tell the manager at Houlihan's I was quitting." Stewart previously was the host of talk shows on MTV and in syndication.

The delay was unusual because executives for Worldwide Pants talked openly about having signed Stewart last week. They were eager to spread the News because they had beat out NBC, which had been close to signing Stewart for its own 1:35 show, now hosted by Greg Kinnear. 

What neither CBS nor the Worldwide Pants executives wanted was what they got: speculation that Stewart was really in line to get CBS' 12:35 a.m. show, now being hosted by Tom Snyder, and also owned by Worldwide Pants. The speculation was inevitable because CBS currently does not have a 1:35 show and starting one will involve the cooperation of the network's affiliates, many of which still don't take Snyder's show. CBS quashed the speculation yesterday, announcing that it has renewed Snyder's show for the 1996-97 season.

Rob Burnett, executive producer of the Letterman show, said Stewart's signing had nothing to do with Snyder. "We're not signing Jon to get rid of Tom. That's just insane. We're very happy with Tom." Snyder's performance has been unspectacular but solid. He averages about 1.5 rating, behind Conan O'Brien's 1.9. But Snyder still has a handicap because he's seen in fewer cities at 12:35.

Stewart's show, if it comes to pass, would not go on CBS until the fall of 1997 at the earliest. In the meantime, Worldwide Pants and CBS plan to develop a variety of projects for Stewart, including specials and prime-time shows. "Jon deserves his own television show," Letterman said of the late-night talk show. "He's smart, funny and, yes girls, he's single!"


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