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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.

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