"Jon Stewart in NBC Sitcom Deal"
December 9, 2002
by Josef Adalian


HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - In his first stab at primetime series television, late-night veteran Jon Stewart will write and executive produce an NBC sitcom starring fellow "Daily Show" writer/actor Stephen Colbert.

Stewart and Colbert will co-write the pilot script for the project, which will borrow heavily from Colbert's experiences growing up in South Carolina. The untitled series is being developed for NBC's fall 2003 schedule.

Stewart said he and Colbert already are flush with ideas.

"We were just thinking about what would happen if a gay man and a straight woman lived together in a bar in Boston and ate spiders for $50,000 every episode," Stewart told Daily Variety. "We're going to try to do a show that has everything that's worked on NBC before. Before it's over, Stephen could end up helming a genial black family. He could be the next Cosby."

NBC executive VP of development Karey Burke said the show will be a "modern-day Andy of Mayberry" story, with elements of both family and office-based comedies.

"The show will really reflect the sensibility of Jon and Stephen, who are known for adult, sophisticated, intelligent comedy," Burke said. "It's completely within the NBC brand."

Colbert was attached to an NBC pilot last year, and while the project didn't move forward, network executives were anxious to develop another show around the comic. When they found out Stewart and Colbert were interested in working on a show together, they didn't waste any time jumping on board.

"There's a history of hit comedies built on talent that have worked together before," Burke said, citing as a classic example Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David teaming for "Seinfeld." "These guys have been collaborators for years, and now they're just taking their act on the road."

Stewart said the real impetus for the project was his desire to get Colbert to stop yakking about his past.

"I'm just tired of Stephen telling me stories about how he grew up," Stewart quipped. "I figured if we write it all down in script form, he'll stop talking about it."

Stewart has no plans to give up his gig as host and executive producer of Comedy Central's Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning "The Daily Show." His feature credits include "Big Daddy" and "Death to Smoochy"; he also hosted the 43rd and 44th annual Grammy Awards.

Colbert, a Second City alum, has spent the last five years working as a writer and senior correspondent for "The Daily Show." He also co-created, exec produced and starred in the cable series "Strangers With Candy" and "Exit 57"; his book "Wigfield" will be released by Hyperion next spring.


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