Back in February, when Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show – the “fake news” series that he built an institution of American satire – he made it clear that he was eager to escape the constant grind of cranking out four shows a week so he could spend more time with his family, and so that the show itself could escape having a “restless host.” What he didn’t make clear at the time was what he might do next. Now we know: He’s going to HBO.
The premium cable network announced today that they’ve entered into a four-year production deal with Stewart. The deal includes a first-look option at any film and TV projects that Stewart might want to launch, but for the moment he’ll be focusing on something that’s perhaps more intriguing: “Short-form digital content.”
“In his first project for HBO under the new deal, Stewart will view current events through his unique prism. Working with the pioneering cloud graphics company OTOY Inc., he is developing new technology that will allow him to produce timely short-form digital content, which will be refreshed on HBO NOW multiple times throughout the day. Additional projects will be announced as they are confirmed.”
That kind of arrangement could mean we’ll see Stewart try any number of things, but what it sounds like HBO’s doing here is giving America’s comedic conscience a chance to basically spout off about any piece of developing news more-or-less as it’s happening, with the added flexibility of an irregular production schedule. So, in the future, we could be watching Stewart riff on, say, Presidential debates not 24 hours after they’ve happened, but the same night. Given the hole he left in our evening TV viewing (no disrespect to Trevor Noah), that’s exciting to think about.
So, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is still gone, but a new era of Stewart reflecting on the news is about to begin.