Jon Stewart is taking a break from "The Daily Show" — and not to lie on a beach. Comedy Central has announced that he'll take off the entire summer to direct a film.
His hiatus was earlier reported in The New York Times, which quoted Stewart as saying,
"I am a television person who is accustomed to having a thought at 10 a.m. and having it out there at 6:30 p.m. and moving on, so this is a little scary, yes,” Mr. Stewart said by telephone. “But one of the reasons we are in this business is to challenge ourselves,” he continued, “and I really connected to Maziar’s story. It’s a personal story but one with universal appeal about what it means to be free.”
"Maziar" is Maziar Bahari, a former Newsweek reporter and subject of a sensational story — his own. He was imprisoned as a spy in Iran in 2009.
Also per the Times, he was imprisoned after appearing in a "Daily Show" skit with Jason Jones. However, Bahari has denied that in interviews, including on "Daily:" "It had nothing to do with my arrest ... those guys wanted to fabricate charges. I could be on 'Sesame Street' and they would accuse Elmo of sedition."
There's much more backstory here; check out the "60 Minutes" interview from the fall of 2009 for some background. He was accused of being a "media spy" — someone who they bizarrely said got paid to tell U.S. media outlets what to publish. Also, check out the Jones piece and a subsequent "Daily" interview.
In any event, he published a book two years ago, “And Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival” by Bahari and Aimee Molloy. Per a Comedy Central statement, the film will be called " 'Rosewater,' a journalist’s story of his entry into the family business - government imprisonment and political incarceration in Iran [and] was written by Stewart and is based on" Bahari's book.
John Oliver will helm the show while he's gone. Stewart is expected to be out eight weeks — not 12, because there are usually several weeks of "dark" time over the summer.