"Stewart gets Daily post"
Broadcasting & Cable
August 17, 1998
by Donna Petrozzello

 

Rather than watch another homebred host use the network as a stepping stone, Comedy Central has named established talker Jon Stewart as new host of The Daily Show beginning in January 1999.

Stewart replaces Craig Kilborn, whose role as Daily's anchor landed him a contract with CBS-TV to replace Tom Snyder on The Late, Late Show. Comedy's two-year contract with Kilborn was set to expire in August 1999; the new contract with Stewart is for four years. "I wanted to work out a four-year deal to have longevity with a host," says Comedy Central President Doug Herzog. Kilborn will be released from his contract early, "with no bad feelings" from the network's side, Herzog says.

With Stewart, Herzog says, he'll consider expanding the late-night social satire show from four to five nights a week "at some point." Herzog also suggests that Comedy may work toward developing an original talk show to follow Daily at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Stewart, who most recently subbed as a fictitious host on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, will be reunited with Eileen Katz, who produced The Jon Stewart Show for two years at MTV. Katz is now senior vice president of programming for Comedy Central. Madeleine Smithberg will continue as executive producer of Daily.

Before Stewart accepted the Comedy Central slot, cable onlookers speculated he might succeed Garry Shandling on The Larry Sanders Show or be tapped by CBS for a late, late-night show. Ultimately, Stewart says, CBS "wasn't ready to do it, and neither was I. I always wanted to go to a show where I'm not pushing the host out," Stewart says. "I like going to a job that's available."

Stewart is poised to join Daily on a ratings upswing. According to Comedy and the latest Nielsen data, Daily averaged a .7 rating for the first two weeks of August, 1998, compared with an average .4 rating for the same period last year. Stewart's previous commitments this fall -- he'll star in two feature films to be released this December and will release a book of short stories next month -- prevented him from joining Comedy sooner, the network says.

 

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