×

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert Nearly Left Comedy Central in 2012, New Book Reveals

A new book that goes behind the scenes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” reveals just how close the network came to losing both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert when talks to renew their contracts went awry in 2012.

Released earlier this week, Chris Smith’s “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History” goes into excruciating detail about how both men quit in the summer of that year when Viacom’s then-CEO, Philippe Dauman, took a hard line in negotiations, but ended up having to phone Stewart to lure the agent he shared with Colbert back to the negotiating table.

Dauman, who was ousted from the top role at Viacom earlier this year, comes off particularly bad in the book, being described by Stewart and others as being blind to the importance of both stars to the network.

“I don’t think Philippe in any way saw what we do as special,” Stewart said in the book. ” As far as he was concerned the star is the real estate, and whether or not we are the ones who carved out that real estate and made it valuable is not important to them.”

The network found itself in a tough spot of having to negotiate renewals for both Colbert and Stewart at roughly the same time. But when the network surprisingly took a tough stance on Colbert despite the fact he was almost at the peak of his fame, their agent, James Dixon, tied their negotiations together.

But when he couldn’t come to terms over how much time Stewart could take off in 2013 to direct the film “Rosewater,” he and Colbert told Dixon they were done.

“Yeah. There was a time when I quit,” Stewart admits in the book.

Colbert described a conversation telling his incredulous daughter the news of their pending departure, saying he was prepared to wrap up the show three months later in time for Christmas.

“How close can you get to it all falling apart? I mean, Jon quit and we were a package,” Colbert says.

Even Comedy Central chief Doug Herzog criticized Dauman for his handling of the situation. “Philippe definitely leaned into this, and he definitely has a particular approach to negotiation, no matter who it is,” he said.

But Dixon recounts his surprise at getting a call from Dauman after being notified of their planned exits that essentially restarted the negotiations and giving both men the deals they wanted. They signed extensions that kept Stewart into 2015 and Colbert, 2014.

The book also goes into details on other behind-the-scenes negotiations, from ABC’s attempt to give Jon Stewart the late-night hosting gig that eventually went to Jimmy Kimmel in 2002 to Comedy Central’s bungling of John Oliver, who left “The Daily Show” for HBO in 2014.

 

More TV

  • Justin Connolly

    Disney Merges All Media Sales and TV Channel Distribution Under Justin Connolly

    Disney promoted Justin Connolly to the new role of president, media distribution, overseeing a single organization that combines all of the company’s media sales and TV channel distribution operations. Connolly previously served as EVP, affiliate sales and marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Based in New York, he will report to Kevin Mayer, chairman of [...]

  • Sarah Aubrey Eric Besner

    WarnerMedia's HBO Max Unveils Original Programming Team Led by Sarah Aubrey

    WarnerMedia has unveiled its original programming and business operations and strategy teams as the company builds out its HBO Max streaming platform. Sarah Aubrey will lead the original programming group as head of original content, reporting to HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly. Joining her on that team are Joey Chavez as executive vice [...]

  • 'Lego Masters' Series from Brad Pitt's

    'Lego Masters' Competition Series from Brad Pitt's Plan B Ordered at Fox

    Fox is continuing to build its non-scripted slate, block by block. The network has put out a series order for reality competition series “Lego Masters,” which hails from Endemol Shine North America and Brad Pitt’s Plan B. The quirky format, which pits all-age contestants against one another to design and construct Lego masterpieces, bowed on Channel [...]

  • Bert and Ernie

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt and 'Sesame Street' Among 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, “Sesame Street,” conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and R&B veterans Earth, Wind and Fire have been selected as the 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees. The kudos will be handed out Dec. 8 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. The award to “Sesame Street” marks the first time the prestigious laurel [...]

  • Ben Whishaw Mary Poppins

    Jack Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw Among 12 Joining 'Fargo' Season 4 Cast

    FX has announced that Jack Huston, Jason Schwartzman and Ben Whishaw will be joining the cast of “Fargo” for its upcoming fourth season. The cabler previously announced that comedian Chris Rock would also be jumping aboard the hit limited series in a lead role. Season 4 of “Fargo” is set to air in 2020. Schwartzman [...]

  • MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - "Toldja"

    'Agents of SHIELD' to End With Season 7 at ABC

    The Marvel series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” will conclude with its upcoming seventh season, Variety has confirmed. “Next summer’s Season 7 will be the last for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a message posted on the show’s official Twitter account read. “Thanks to our fans for allowing us to be the longest-running Marvel TV series to-date.” The series [...]

  • Lily Neumeyer

    MTV Ups Lily Neumeyer to Executive Vice President of Development

    Viacom-owned MTV has promoted Lily Neumeyer to executive vice president of development from senior vice president of development for MTV and VH1. She will now oversee the unscripted development slate and strategy for MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo and MTV Studios, reporting to president of entertainment Nina Diaz. “Lily is a creative force of nature and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content