Well here’s the definition of bittersweet: Jon Stewart will be taking a hiatus from hosting The Daily Show this summer in order to make his feature directing debut. Stewart wrote and will direct Rosewater, an adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity And Survival. Though Stewart is best known for his comedic chops on The Daily Show, the past five years or so have seen the host make some brilliantly dramatic—and at times angry—turns on the comedy news program, solidifying himself as one of the most respected, sharp, and eloquent personalities on television.
Hardly a comedy, Rosewater chronicles BBC journalist Bahari’s 118 day captivity in Iran’s most notorious prison after leaving London in June of 2009 to cover the country’s presidential elections. The title is derived from the fact that Bahari knew only one thing about his brutal interrogator: he smelled of Rosewater. Hit the jump for more, including how The Daily Show plans to cover Stewart’s absence. [Update: We’ve updated the article with the press release along with video of Bahari’s appearance on The Daily Show]
Stewart has some big talent to help him steer Rosewater, as Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men, The Social Network) is onboard to produce alongside Stewart and Gigi Pritzker. Stewart wrote the script for the film himself after quietly optioning the book through his Busboy Productions banner. This marks Stewart’s first time writing or directing a narrative feature, and I’m very interested to see how this thing turns out.
Of course, this all means that Stewart will be taking an extended hiatus from hosting The Daily Show. He’s expected to be gone for a total of 12 weeks this summer, during which John Oliver will act as guest host for a total of 8 weeks of new shows. As a huge fan of The Daily Show it’s disappointing to think that Stewart will be gone for three months, but if you’re going to get somebody to sub in, Oliver is a swell choice. Stewart has countless fans in the Hollywood community, so it’ll be fascinating to see how his cast fills out. Expect to hear more regarding Rosewater soon, and you can watch Bahari’s 2011 appearance on The Daily Show below.
When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater.
For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child.
A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Then They Came for Me offers insight into the past fifty years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression. [Amazon]
Here’s the full press release:
NEW YORK, March 5, 2013 — Jon Stewart will go on hiatus from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” beginning in June in order to direct his first feature film, entitled “Rosewater,” which will be produced by Stewart’s production company, Busboy Productions, along with Scott Rudin Productions and Odd Lot Entertainment. Longtime correspondent and writer John Oliver will host the Emmy® and Peabody® Award-winning series for the eight weeks of original episodes that are scheduled during Stewart’s hiatus.
John Oliver joined “The Daily Show” and The Best F#@king News Team Ever in 2006 and since arriving has done everything from interviewing UN Ambassadors to covering the World Cup in South Africa to breaking his nose fighting for the Confederate army. As a writer Oliver has been nominated for Emmy® and Writers Guild Awards and he won the Breakout Award at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. He performs stand-up around the US and his one-hour special “Terrifying Times” debuted in April 2008. His stand-up series, “John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show” premiered on COMEDY CENTRAL in January 2010 and aired its third season last summer. Along with Andy Zaltzman, Oliver also writes and stars in a weekly podcast, “The Bugle: Audio Newspaper for a Visual World.”
“Rosewater,” a journalist’s story of his entry into the family business – government imprisonment and political incarceration in Iran – was written by Stewart and is based on the book, “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival” by Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. Bahari was falsely accused of being a spy and imprisoned by the Iranian government shortly after beinginterviewed by “Daily Show” correspondent Jason Jones in 2009 when he travelled to Iran to file a series of reports for the show (link to segment TK). Bahari later appeared as a guest on “The Daily Show”in June 2011.