×

Jon Stewart to make directorial debut with ‘Rosewater’

'The Daily Show' host will take a 12-week hiatus to helm historical drama; John Oliver filling in

Jon Stewart is taking a three-month summer break from “The Daily Show” to make his feature directorial debut with the historical drama “Rosewater” from a script he wrote.

Stalwart “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver will guest host for eight weeks beginning in June, when Stewart goes overseas to begin production. The hiatus covers only two months of production/original episodes, as the show typically builds dark weeks into the summer.

Project, first reported on sister site Deadline.com, is an adaptation of BBC journalist Mazir Bahari’s book “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival,” which the Canadian-Iranian co-wrote with Aimee Molloy. In it, Bahari recounts how he spent nearly four months in a deplorable Iranian prison being blindly interrogated by a man whose only identifying characteristic was that he smelled of rosewater.

The BBC journalist was only supposed to be in the country for a week covering presidential elections, but was jailed in Tehran and accused of attempting to stage an anti-government coup. He left behind a pregnant wife in London during the harrowing ordeal.

Little fanfare accompanined Stewart’s optioning of the book, which has a connection to “The Daily Show”: Bahari’s Iranian captors used his past appearance on the show as evidence against him. Bahari had taken part in a sketch in which correspondent Jason Jones interviewed three outspoken critics of Iran, including the journalist.

“You can imagine how upset we were,” Stewart told the New York Times, “and I struck up a friendship with him afterward.”

Stewart, Gigi Pritzker and Scott Rudin will produce.

Stewart told the Times he started to think about a film as he read Bahari’s book and asked Rudin to look at a draft of his treatment as a favor, and before long they thought they had something. Stewart is a prolific producer and writer for television, though his film experience is limited to a few cameos — he cheekily cites “Death to Smoochy” as he best-known film role — and he’s never directed.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content