Jon Stewart steps into Arsenio's spotlight

Published July 9, 1994|Updated Oct. 7, 2005

MTV talk show host Jon Stewart will step into the late-night void left by Arsenio Hall's departure.

Paramount Domestic Television, which co-produced The Arsenio Hall Show, announced Thursday that The Jon Stewart Show will premiere Sept. 12 in syndication.

"I am very excited by the chance to work with Paramount. Although I had my sights set on Mary Hart's job, this should be fun, too," Stewart said of his New York-based, hour-long show.

Hall quit his show, which had been lagging in the ratings, in May. Arsenio will continue to be seen in reruns through Sept. 9.

Stewart, 30, a native of Trenton, N.J., began as a stand-up comedian in New York and performed at clubs around the country.

His TV appearances include HBO Young Comedian's Special and MTV's You Wrote It, You Watch It, which led to his talk show on the music cable channel in October 1993.

Stewart's new show has been signed in 80 TV markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with more expected by its debut, a Paramount spokesman said Thursday. Hall's show had been airing in about 160 markets.

Arsenio was generally seen in 11 p.m. or 11:30 time slots; Paramount said Stewart's program is targeted to the midnight or post-midnight time periods.

He faces more competition than David Letterman and Jay Leno. Two late-night syndicated entries set to debut in September, Last Call and The Newz, stepped up their efforts to sign stations after Hall's exit.

Both the half-hour shows are comic takes on the day's news and are aimed at young adults.

In choosing Stewart, Paramount is clearly trying to offer a show with appeal for the young viewers Hall attracted. Stewart could also deliver more young men, who are the core audience for MTV. Hall was a stronger draw with female viewers.

Although Stewart is leaving MTV, he's staying in the corporate family: Viacom Inc., the parent company of MTV Networks, acquired Paramount in a recent merger.

The Stewart show is the first example of the kind of interaction that observers expected from the Viacom-Paramount deal.

Stewart will be executive producer of his show, which is produced by Paramount with Busboy Productions and MTV Productions.