Where's Jon? That's what fans of hip comic/actor/former
talk-show host Jon Stewart have been wondering lately, nearly
15 months after CBS and David Letterman's Worldwide Pants
production company signed Stewart to a wide-ranging development
When the agreement was announced in June
1996, CBS and Worldwide Pants said Stewart would develop various
prime-time projects for the network - including specials,
sitcoms and, possibly, a late-night talk show which would
follow CBS' Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, which
is also produced by Worldwide Pants.
But despite the hoopla that surrounded Stewart's
signing, the deal has yet to yield any concrete results, either
on the air or off. Indeed, the funnyman's only formal connection
with CBS since signing the deal has been appearing as a guest
on Letterman's Late Show and filling in on Late
Late Show when Snyder has been on vacation.
Industry sources say Stewart's relationship
with CBS and Letterman is still on solid ground. The problem,
according to those sources: Stewart is still deciding his
next career move. "Jon really has to decide what he wants
to do," one insider told The Post. "He had
a budding feature career and a film deal with Miramax, and
he may have wanted to focus on that for a while. It's a bit
of a wait and see thing."
Worldwide Pants chief Rob Burnett, who's
also the executive producer of Late Show, says Stewart
remains a valued member of the Worldwide Pants family. "We've
made a deal with Jon Stewart, and we think the world of him,"
Burnett said. "When the time is right for him and us,
we'll try to think of the right project for him."
Sources say Stewart and Letterman have "bandied
about" a few ideas for possible projects, but that so
far, no single concept has clicked. Most TV insiders believe
that the right project for Stewart will ultimately end up
being a late-night talk show.
Stewart has impressed CBS execs the few
times he's filled in for Snyder, with one network observer
noting that Stewart has been able to easily segue from interviews
with his comic friends to segments featuring politicians and
newsmakers. "Jon's done well even though Snyder's one-on-one
format is not really his format," the insider said.
Officially, both CBS and Stewart have said
that any talk show hosted by Stewart would air at 1:30 a.m.,
after Snyder's Late Late Show. And in fact, CBS recently
renewed Snyder's contract through the 1997-98 season.
"But looking to the future, we're going
to be looking for something new in the 12:30 a.m. time slot
- and eventually even the 11:30 p.m. time slot now occupied
by Letterman," one top CBS source said, referring to
a time perhaps five or more years from now, when Letterman
could grow tired of the late-night grind. Letterman is currently
under contract until 2002.
Indeed, some insiders speculate that one
reason nothing has happened with Stewart and CBS yet is that
Stewart isn't interested in doing a 1:30 a.m. show. So until
Snyder steps down, Stewart's CBS career will stay on hold,
these sources say.
As for Stewart's immediate plans, he just
signed to star with comedian Janeane Garafolo in an upcoming
romantic comedy for Touchstone Pictures. As for non-CBS TV
projects, there's been talk that Stewart might replace Garry
Shandling as the "host" of HBO's fictional Larry
Sanders Show. Whatever happens, "Nobody here wants
to lose Jon Stewart," one CBS insider said.