Earlier this month, reports surfaced that NBC approached Jon Stewart about hosting Meet The Press after David Gregory’s departure. A source told New York that NBC was “ready to back the Brink’s truck up” and pay the comedian an absolute fortune.
In an new interview with Rolling Stone, Stewart confirms that there were indeed discussions. “My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could,” he says. “I’m sure part of them was thinking, ‘Why don’t we just make it a variety show?'”
Stewart says he never seriously considered taking the gig. “I felt like that was one of those situations,” he says, “where someone says, ‘We really like what you do. Why don’t you come over here and do something different, maybe something you don’t do as well, for us?’ I can understand notionally where it comes from. News and entertainment have melded in a way. But they would be overcompensating on the entertainment side. That’s certainly not an outlandish decision, although I don’t necessarily think that’s the best direction for it.”
He does think that CBS made a very wise decision in hiring Stephen Colbert to take over for David Letterman. “He’s going to be tremendous,” he says. “Untethered from his character, I think he’ll actually have more room and really be able to deliver in a way that’s going to surprise people.”
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Stewart is less confident that he’d work as the host of a network late night show, and he has no interest in finding out. “I had done a show like that 20 years ago,” he says, referencing his short-lived eponymous show on MTV. “The people spoke and felt that was not something I should do. They felt, in fact, that I should be locked out of the building. It also wasn’t something that I felt necessarily comfortably doing. I don’t think I’m particularly suited for it.”
For much more from our in-depth interview with Stewart, including a detailed look at his new movie Rosewater, check out the next issue of Rolling Stone, on stands next week.