Acclaimed comedian, TV host and Fox News antagonist Jon Stewart is stepping away from his award-winning series "The Daily Show" to make a movie. Alas, it is not the sequel to Death to Smoochy. Stewart is parlaying his popularity and respectability into a dramatic motion picture production called Rosewater, which Stewart has written and will direct this summer. Rosewater will force Stewart to take a 12-week hiatus from "The Daily Show" this summer. "Daily Show" co-star John Oliver will take over hosting duties for eight of those weeks according to Deadline.
Rosewater is an adaptation of the non-fiction book Then They Came For Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, written by BBC journalist Maziar Bahari (with Aimee Molloy), who appeared on "The Daily Show" multiple times between 2009 and 2011. Rosewater will tell the story of how Bahari traveled to Iran to cover the 2009 presidential elections and wound up spending 118 days in prison, brutally interrogated by a man who, according to Bahari, smelled like rosewater. An early appearance by Bahari on "The Daily Show" was actually used against him in prison.
Rosewater is clearly a passion project for Stewart, who will be making his directorial and motion picture screenwriting debut on the film. Stewart's career in films was a recurring joke when he hosted the Academy Awards in both 2006 and 2008. Stewart had small parts in such critically pummeled motion pictures as Big Daddy, Doogal and The Faculty, the latter of which was actually pretty danged good. It's unusual for a popular comedian to make a serious drama his directorial debut, but Stewart has over the last decade raised his visibility as a serious political pundit when he wasn't mocking Fox News... and often when he was.
John Oliver follows former "Daily Show" correspondents Rob Corddry and Stephen Colbert in taking over temporary hosting duties on the program. Colbert parlayed his stint into his own popular series, "The Colbert Report," which runs immediately following "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. Corddry wound up moving to such motion pictures as Hot Tub Time Machine and Hell Baby, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Does this mean bigger things in store for John Oliver? He's one of the most reliable comedy components of "The Daily Show" and could certainly carry his own program. The question is... What would "The Daily Show" do without him?
William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel, co-host of The B-Movies Podcast, co-star of The Trailer Hitch, and the writer of The Test of Time. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.