After holding a year-long bake-off among various celebrities to find the next host of its signature “The Daily Show,” Comedy Central is going to try a new recipe.
When the program returns from a hiatus, it is expected to rely heavily on a team of correspondents to lead each night, according to three people familiar with the matter, though it is not clear if the network has struck upon its final assemblage of talent. “Daily Show” could also rely on guest appearances by some of the celebrities who have hosted the program since Trevor Noah, the last permanent presence behind the desk, quit abruptly in late 2022.
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Those looking for an immediate successor for Noah won’t find one — at least, not yet.
The decision by the Paramount Global network comes as the economics of late-night TV, a cultural touchstone in the United States, have begun to falter. Advertising dollars and audiences for the programs have begun to shrink in recent years as viewers move more readily to streaming video, and watch more of the programs by checking out digital-media snippets of the programs the day after the run on linear TV. After capturing about $39.9 million in advertising dollars in 2022, “Daily Show” is on track to lure just under $19 million for 2023, according to Vivvix, a tracker of ad spending. Production last year was hampered by the Hollywood writers strikes, and Comedy Central did not run “Daily Show” repeats as its rivals at CBS, NBC and ABC did.
Comedy Central is expected to unveil its plans for “Daily Show” next week. The network did not respond immediately to a query seeking comment about the role of the correspondents in future broadcasts.
Chris McCarthy, the Paramount Global president who oversees the bulk of the company’s cable networks, is said to have informed talent representatives of the network’s decision in recent days. According to people familiar with the talks, McCarthy has told people that “Daily Show” will rely more heavily on a “newsroom” concept with a group of correspondents leading the program. These people said executives may keep an eye out for a possible solo host in months to come, but don’t feel ready to choose one at this time.
To be sure, the decision is likely to save money — a concern that all the networks involved in late-night programming have expressed. In recent months, Warner Bros. Discovery has exited the wee-hours arena, cutting programs led by Conan O’Brien and Samantha Bee. And NBC has gotten out of the business of putting up a late-night show on at 1:30 a.m., an hour it filled for years with Carson Daly and Bob Costas. CBS recently replaced its “The Late Late Show” with “After Midnight,” a program hosted by Taylor Tomlinson that is styled more as a game show, and is said to cost significantly less to produce.
Of course, the “Daily Show” correspondent pool is not as big as it once way. Roy Wood Jr., one of the most popular of the group, exited last year, citing Comedy Central’s inability to name a host as one of the factors in his decision. The show’s other correspondents include Desi Lydic, Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta and Dulce Sloan.
There is good reason for Comedy Central to get “Daily Show” back into production. The show typically thrives during an election year, which it often uses to generate live broadcasts and special programs. Like many other cable networks owned by Paramount, Comedy Central has become heavily reliant on repeats of old programs, including “Seinfeld.” and “South Park.” Gone are the days, however, when Comedy Central had its own primetime lineup (“Drunk History” or “Broad City”).
Among the celebrities who guest-hosted “Daily Show” in 2023 in hopes of being considered for a permanent role are Leslie Jones, Chelsea Handler, Kal Penn, Charlamagne Tha God and Sarah Silverman.
There may still be a chance that Comedy Central hopes to land a big name at some point in the future. The network approached comedian John Mulaney about the host job at some point in the recent past, according to two people familiar with the matter.
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