Jon Stewart will be gone for eight weeks this summer in order to make his movie directorial debut. Fans may miss the host as John Oliver will take over hosting duties for "The Daily Show" for eight weeks, but they'll have another reward: checking out Stewart's movie, Rosewater, once it hits theatres.
Fittingly, the comedic news anchor will direct from a screenplay he wrote based on the experiences of one of "The Daily Show"'s recurring guests, Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. In 2009, Bahari was accused of conspiring against the Iranian government and held in prison in Tehran for four months. A "Daily Show" segment he did in which correspondent Jason Jones posed as a spy was used against him. Bahari co-wrote a book based on his experiences, Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, which Stewart used to write his screenplay.
In the book, which made the Times bestsellers list, Bahari talks about how he was in the country covering elections when he was captured, held, and tortured for 119 days. It's heavy stuff, but there may be a market for it--and even awards prospects. The Oscars this year featured two Middle East-set dramas, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. For a long time, movies set in the region were considered box-office poison, but that's clearly no longer the case. Plus, Bahari was eventually released from prison, so a happy ending is also guaranteed. OddLot Productions and Scott Rudin are among the producers. Rudin has produced a number of prominent awards winners, so his touch could be valuable.
While Stewart is best known as a TV host, he's also an actor with a fair amount of comedy credits. That experience will prove valuable on set. When it comes to the box office, beloved TV stars can rally their audiences and drive them into the theatres. 2010 surprise hit Date Night, which had a particularly long run in theatres, starred "The Office's" Steve Carell and "30 Rock's" Tina Fey, a potent combination that translated to just under $100 million at the box office. If the movie's good, Stewart has many opportunities to promote his work on "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and mobilize audiences. Stewart, you have our faith with Rosewater.