It looks like fans will once again be able to watch the former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, HBO says. Stewart will be returning to our screens after signing a massive four-year deal with the network. The agreement is for the production of “timely short-form digital content” and will see the partnership of Jon Stewart, HBO, and London-based animation house OTOY, which has done digital graphics for films like Spiderman 3 and The Social Network.
The idea of “timely short form digital content” sounds strikingly like another show that we’ve been obsessed with lately, namely John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, and it looks like the two are going to be colleagues once again. John Oliver is another high-profile talent signed with HBO. The ex-Daily Show correspondent’s short rants on topical events were a runaway smash hit, and it looks like we’re going to be seeing a similar product brought to us by Jon Stewart. HBO has also included a first look option for any other film or television ideas that Stewart might have, indicating that the highly successful cable network is aiming to be a one-stop shop for content from the mind of Jon Stewart. HBO NOW and HBO GO and other platforms are the initial stages for this next phase of Stewart’s career, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Stewart was characteristically flippant when talking about the new deal.
“Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me. I’m pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again.”
While this news is hardly surprising, it’s certainly welcome. When Jon Stewart left The Daily Show, he famously said he was “tired” and needed a break, but most commentators were tipping a rapid return to television. Stewart himself, in his final shows, made joking references to the fact that he was never able to stay off the television for very long. His low profile in recent months has most likely been an effort to allow his successor, Trevor Noah, to ease in to his role hosting what, for 16 years, had emphatically been The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo called the signing the “next phase” in Stewart’s “groundbreaking career” in a press release on Tuesday.
There’s every reason to believe that it will continue to be groundbreaking. The press release mentions that Stewart will be working with OTOY to come up with new technologies that will enable him to punch out the “timely” shorts that will reportedly be refreshed multiple times per day. This sounds like a sort of on-demand service for Jon Stewart. HBO is known for its pioneering attitude to television, so there is potential here for viewers to see something completely new, hosted by the trusted, familiar, and much-loved Jon Stewart. HBO has engaged Stewart for various comedy gigs over the past 20 years, so it looks like the two are a comfortable and logical fit for the future.
Jon Stewart is a multi-award winning entertainer. Since his debut on The Daily Show in 1999, the series won two prestigious Peabody awards, as well as winning 23 prime-time Emmys, with the most recent batch of three including the award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series. There have been books, such as Naked Pictures of Famous People, and the Academy Awards have twice been hosted by Jon Stewart. HBO has, of course, a longstanding relationship with Stewart, with the comedian appearing on standup special Jon Stewart: Unleavened, hosting the special George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy, and appearing on a recurring basis on The Larry Sanders Show.
[Photo by Getty Images/Brad Barket]