If you heard the news Tuesday that Jon Stewart is stepping back into the limelight after signing a four-year deal with HBO and thought that it meant he’d again be gracing all of our television screens on the daily, well... you might want to sit down. I hate to be the bearer of bad news — especially when that news involves my favorite television stars — but the deal that Stewart struck with HBO on Tuesday is likely not for a television series starring him.
What exactly Stewart will be doing on the cable network is not entirely clear, but from the sounds of things, it doesn't seem like it'll be a project starring him. Of course, until we hear it straight from the horse’s mouth (or see it on our screens) we won’t know what it is — but based off of the report from The Hollywood Reporter and Stewart's own statement about the deal, this sounds like more of a production gig than anything else.
So, let’s break this down a bit more, because whatever it is that Stewart creates over at HBO, it’s bound to be unlike anything we’ve seen before.
First thing’s first: According to Stewart’s statement about the deal, "Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me. I’m pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again." So there’s one major way that the content Stewart is creating over at HBO will be different from a television series: If what he's saying here means that he will be producing short content, there will be no more 22-minute shows on the daily for this comedian. What these "short-form digital content" projects will be remains to be seen (maybe something like the mock interviews and awesome news clip montages he used to put together on The Daily Show?), but it's starting to become clear that Stewart's project will not be a lengthy one.
And then there’s the fact that, according to EnGadget, Stewart is pairing up with game-streaming service OTOY in order to bring this content to life. This is the detail that sets Stewart’s new project apart the most, because OTOY is a company that has been working on technology to create virtual reality video streaming for some time now. With that kind of technology and Stewart’s kind of comedy combined, the content they produce will likely be pretty groundbreaking. Will it be interactive? Will it be some virtual reality that viewers can “enter”? And does that mean that I will finally be able to hug Stewart?
God, I hope so.
I’m hoping against all odds that this is in fact what Stewart’s content will offer — but until we hear more about his specific projects, there’s only one thing we can be sure of: Whatever comes of this deal is going to be awesome, and it’s going to be unprecedented.