Jon Stewart Leaving ‘The Daily Show’

Jon Stewart Leaving the Daily Show

Jon Stewart said Tuesday that he would step down from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” after 17 years, leaving a new hole in the ranks of latenight television and setting up another challenge for the Viacom-owned cable network, which recently bid farewell to popular timeslot host Stephen Colbert.

Stewart’s current contract is believed to end around the fall of 2015, but the time of his departure is uncertain. He told viewers on Tuesday night’s broadcast the he might leave as early as July or perhaps stay until sometime in December. “Daily Show” has run on Comedy Central longer than any other program except for the animated “South Park.”

The news is not entirely surprising. Stewart, 52, had discussed the possibility of leaving “The Daily Show” while promoting “Rosewater,” a film that marked his directorial debut. And yet, his departure means that the backbone of Comedy Central’s lineup is looser than it has been in some time. The network in January launched “The Nightly Show,” starring producer and writer Larry Wilmore, as a successor to Colbert’s “Colbert Report,” which ended in December.  Colbert will succeed David Letterman on CBS’ “Late Show” later this year.

Comedy Central executives have quietly been planning for his exit. “I don’t like to think about the day that Jon leaves, but there will be a day. The show will live on. It is a franchise, like the ‘Tonight Show,'” Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, told Variety in December. “We’ll figure it out when we get there. He has set the standard. We will identify talent, and hopefully, we will find the next Jon Stewart.”

Stewart’s departure represents another kind of loss for Comedy Central. He played a key role in discovering and promoting new talent. Indeed, Colbert and Wilmore were contributors to the program before network executives saw them as talent that could anchor their own programs. Stewart’s Busboy Productions is a producer of “Nightly,” and is expected to remain affiliated with that program. Stewart also gets some credit for the rise of John Oliver, the British comedian who recently moved to HBO after a successful stint filling in for Stewart while he worked on his movie.

Under his aegis, “Daily Show” has become a go-to destination for young viewers between 18 and 34, and is considered by many in that crowd to function as a different kind of news broadcast. Stewart, who riffs on the day’s events before showcasing pieces from contributors, interviewing authors and celebrities and winding up with a video snippet called “Your Moment of Zen,” has never been shy about using his desk to deliver scorching indictments of “real” newsgathering operations like CNN and CNBC.

When Stewart joined “The Daily Show,” he faced questions similar to the ones that will challenge his successor. The half-hour program began in July 1996, and it was originally hosted by Craig Kilborn and was created by Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg.  The program was originally conceived as a way to fill the hole left by the departure of “Politically Incorrect,” a gimlet-eyed take on current events hosted by Bill Maher.

That show was moving to ABC  and, as Doug Herzog, president of Viacom Entertainment Group, recalled in  a December interview with Variety, “It was crushing news, but we had a year” to come up with something different. The operating idea in executives’ heads was “we’ve got to be funny every day, because otherwise we’re just ‘Benny Hill’ reruns. What can we do?” recalled Herzog, who led Comedy Central at the time.

Stewart would join the show in 1999, and make it more politically focused. Under Kilborn, the program held more true to a “fake newscast” format. Stewart, who had a talk show at MTV as well as a short-run Comedy Central series, would use the 2000 election to tilt the program more toward issues.


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  1. name says:

    I say Stewart is headed to 30 Rock for MSNBC primetime. this will surely spike their ratings and Jon could get a Universal movie production deal with a MSNBC contract. This would finally give FOX News some competition for their 15 year, 8pm ratings dominance.
    Read an article just last week that noted MSNBC’s President, Phil Griffin may dump more than one of MSNBC’s daily programs very soon due to continued very low ratings. Chris Hayes’ 8pm show was mentioned in said article.

  2. Julienne says:

    Having less than a million viewers an episode, is not a success. It was slanted, biased and boring.

  3. geno says:

    Wow, that sucks! The Daily Show is the only descent thing on television. Where else can young people get honest reporting on our corrupt and despicable politicians? They fear you, Jon. Without you to call them on their crap, this nation will truly be in trouble. Please don’t quit, you owe it to the youth of this nation to keep us informed, with you’re brilliant, funny, and honest take on the news. It may be a heavy burden, but it really is an important responsibility, and you’re the only person who has ever been able to pull it off. The Daily Show is not just a funny television show, it truly serves an important role in our society. I think that when you’re an old man looking back on your life, no matter what the future holds for you, you’ll realize that your years on The Daily Show were the most important and productive of your life. I really hate to think of a future without The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Unless you’re quitting to run for president. If that’s the case, then forget everything I said. I can’t imagine someone in the White House that you can actually believe in….. or even believe.

    • Vince says:

      Your opinion is that it sold one point if view….others like myself saw it as a satirical look at the news…

  4. Jiant Culls says:

    well, so long as the next host isn’t a woman. you want the show to fail? choose a woman. women aren’t funny or interesting (outside of showing you their tits), and the women of The Daily Show are proof of this. look at all the men who have launched their careers from this show. and the women? next to nothing from them, and that’s because they’re all so wildly untalented. if you want the daily show to die, pick a woman. otherwise, stick with the smart choice (and the only choice, really) – choose a guy.

  5. jame1030 says:

    I think they’re getting Bassem Youssef ready to take over for Jon!!! Now that would be interesting!

  6. Jimbo says:

    Colbert actually predates Stewart as a cast member on The Daily Show, and would undoubtedly bristle at your assertion that Stewart brought his talent to light. Colbert reportedly felt entitled to succeed Craig Kilborn, and considered Stewart to be the interloper.

  7. Kevin says:

    His show was getting stale, and predictable. 17 years is a good run, but exiting on top is better than leaving while you’re slipping down a hill.

  8. Jill Dalton says:

    Honestly, I’m glad. He took what was a hilarious premise – to make fun of the American news media, and turned it into his personal platform for preaching his beliefs. Not only did it get old, it got un-funny too. Bye, JS.

    • Brad says:

      I agree. I am Canadian so don’t care too much about US politics (Democrats or Republicans) but have found the show/JS is just a news network in disguise with a political slant. It has a few funny things to say here and there but has lost its satirical edge.

  9. Pat says:

    couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, the vitriol pouring from all the people on the left, and you folks wonder why the country has become so divided since BHO has occupied the WH.

  10. kevingharris says:

    Reblogged this on ideasspace.

  11. Francis Gumm says:

    Okay, see ya.

  12. Killbornforhost says:

    Bring Craig Back!!!!!

  13. Julienne says:

    Who cares. It’s a snore fest

  14. jkftrav28 says:

    Oh, nooooooooooooo!

  15. Busta Ruckus says:

    In keeping with today’s current trend of entertainment executives desire to re-hash old shit, maybe they could bring in Craig Kilborn to host.

  16. Lowell Peterson says:

    Jon has been a great friend to the men and women who write the show, day in and day out, for years.

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