The 2016 presidential election has provided endless fodder for late-night TV comedians, but a certain comedian’s voice has been sorely missing.
Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart might be coming back just in time to give his unique perspective on a wild election special. HBO CEO Richard Plepler suggested Stewart might be on air at the premium cable network before the election in November, during a Paley Media Council interview Thursday with CNN’s Brian Stelter.
“Yeah, I’m hopeful,” Plepler said when asked if Stewart would get a chance to weigh in on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s likely showdown, Variety reported.
When Stewart does get back on TV, Plepler says, HBO will be letting him do things his way.
“It is a perfect example of bringing a remarkable original voice into the house, giving a new opportunity of expression to that original voice and saying, ‘We now have the flexibility to let you paint however you want to,’” Plepler said. “My hunch is it will evolve over time. It will iterate over time.”
He added, “He has free rein to do whatever he wants.”
Stewart signed an exclusive four-year production deal with HBO in November. His first project will be to create short-form digital content multiple times a day for HBO’s online streaming service HBO Now. HBO also gets first dibs on any movies or TV shows Stewart dreams up in the next four years.
“Jon Stewart led a revolution that changed the face of TV comedy on the ‘Daily Show,’ ” Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming, said in a statement at the time. “He graced our network nearly 20 years ago, so we’re thrilled to welcome back his immense talents in this next chapter of his career.”
Since leaving “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central in August, Stewart has largely avoided the spotlight. The“Rosewater” director was at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in April to promote the documentary “After Spring,” which explored the Syrian civil war — Stewart executive-produced the film. He has also been active in fighting for the rights of 9/11 first responders and raising money for veterans, causes he has long championed.
Meanwhile, the comedian’s fans have been desperate for another taste of his patented skewering of political hypocrisy. More than 200,000 fans of the former “Daily Show” host, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, signed a petition on Change.org in August calling for Stewart to moderate one of the 2016 presidential debates.