"Channel surfer Jon Stewart readying for Daily Show role"
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
December 17, 1998
by Drew Jubera


Jon Stewart is cooling until he takes over as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show next month (current host Craig Kilborn signs off at 11 tonight, with guest Richard Lewis). The Daily Show satirizes events of the day, so jokes can't be written in advance. Stewart meets with the staff on Jan. 4 and goes on-air on Jan. 11. "I'll have five good days to put the thing together," he says from New York. "It'll be five days of being like a biohazard drill team: We'll just be working on logistics. In the  meantime, everybody gets a break to get straight and sober."

Stewart hosted an MTV talk show in 1994 and 1995, after which he became the most mentioned possible replacement in the business. David Letterman's production company wanted to create a show for Stewart to follow The Late, Late Show With Tom Snyder. Then Stewart was supposed to replace Snyder, for whom he often guest-hosted (Kilborn got the spot). He also appeared on HBO's fictional talk show The Larry Sanders Show as himself -- a comedian rumored to replace the host. The role was so successful there was talk of the HBO show continuing with Stewart replacing Garry Shandling as the show's fictional host.Meantime, Stewart wrote a book of humor essays (Naked Pictures of Famous People) and worked on two movies that open within the month (Playing by Heart and The Faculty). He took time Wednesday from doing not much of anything to talk about The Daily Show.

Q: How will the show change?
A: At first the difference will be in whatever atmosphere I bring into it. It's not going to be like, "I really want to do The Daily Show and I'd love to turn it into an abstract musical." I like the format and the chance to satirize the news.

Q: We've had this parade of pretty boys named Greg Kinnear and Craig Kilborn --- any plans to changeyour name to a variation of Greg?
A: We're talking about that, but we may want to ease people into it. I'm like Bobby on The Brady Bunch when he hangs from the chin-up bar to make himself taller.

Q: Anxious to get started?
A: I've spent the last few years getting some things out of my system [the movies and book]. Now I want to get into the rhythm of being able to respond to things. The other night I was in bed when Mary Bono was questioning the Democratic counsel, asking should she tell her children about the president. I wanted to run to the studio and say, "Tell them he was addicted to pain killers and skied into an intern!"

Q: What happened to talk between you and Letterman about doing a show after Tom Snyder, or replacing him?
A: It was like a shotgun marriage. I was on the show one night and David called the next day about joining forces. But the more we got into it, the more I realized there were other things I still wanted to do. There was talk of a sitcom around the same time The Daily Show came up, and I decided this made more sense for me.

Q: Was talk of you hosting The Larry Sanders Show ever serious?
A: Not really. It was something we'd talk about at 2 in the morning and giggle about it.

Q: Where do you see yourself on the Planet Comedy?
A: Same place I've always seen myself. OK, I may never be Woody Allen, but at least I'm not that other [guy] I saw the other night.

Q: Plans for more movies?
A: The focus right now is getting up to speed on the show and taking two or three months to get my bearings. It's going to be like The Jerk: [the staff] knows [its] rhythm and I'm Steve Martin on the porch, trying to clap and keep up.


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