By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
It has won the Emmy for outstanding variety, music or comedy series for the past two years, and coming off a season with a presidential election to lampoon and a war that is always fodder for comment, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” has a good chance of making it three Emmys in a row.
“The show is in the national cultural zeitgeist,” said Lauren Corrao, senior VP of original programs and development for Comedy Central, where the series has been a late-night mainstay since 1996. Mr. Stewart has hosted since 1999.
“This is the show where politicians, professors and authors go,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television Group. “It’s not only the ‘in place’ to be, it’s the show that the people you want to reach are watching.
“In particular, if politicians are not aware of what’s happening on this show, they’re out of the loop.”
Ms. Corrao agreed, noting, “The Democratic Party seemed to know that early in the game. The Republican Party picked up on it. There are many people who tell us-and them-that they can’t go to sleep each night without watching at least the first 10 minutes of ‘The Daily Show.'”
“The Daily Show” offers 42 original weeks of Monday-to-Thursday half-hours per season. Ben Karlin is executive producer, Mr. Stewart and Stewart Bailey are co-executive producers and Kahane Corn and David Javerbaum are supervising producers. Mr. Javerbaum is also head writer of the team, which has won the Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety, music or comedy series for the past two years.
This past season Mr. Stewart stirred up a bit of controversy when in an Oct. 15 appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire” he somberly suggested to hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that news networks could and should do their jobs much better. The resulting verbal tussle between Mr. Stewart and Mr. Carlson got a lot of attention, and though Mr. Stewart stated loudly that his is “a comedy show,” his support for the candidacy of Sen. John Kerry led to cries of bias from conservatives.
“‘The Incident’ led to a frenzy of Internet communications,” Ms. Corrao recalled. “The clip of Jon on ‘Crossfire’ was downloaded more than Janet Jackson’s ‘Nipplegate.’ Most people understood what Jon was trying to say and it helped the show at the end of the day.”
What is void of controversy is the importance of “The Daily Show” to Comedy Central. Ms. Corrao calls it the network’s flagship, and adds, “Jon loves to say he’s on a network where the show before him features puppets making crank phone calls.”
“[The show has] established us as doing adult satirical comedy,” Ms. Corrao remarked, noting that other shows on the network, such as “South Park,” also have an audience.
She said there are no worries about “Daily Show” content affecting revenue, adding, “If there are some advertisers who are concerned about the nature of the content, we’re not concerned. We cannot find enough time for the advertisers we have. It’s the most desirable show on our network for advertisers.”
Others to Consider
2004 Variety, Music or Comedy Series Contenders
Winner: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Other nominees: Chappelle’s Show (Comedy Central); Late Night With Conan O’Brien (NBC); Late Show With David Letterman (CBS); Saturday Night Live (NBC)