Jon Stewart will take a 12-week sabbatical from The Daily Show this summer in order to direct a movie about a journalist who was captured and imprisoned by Iranian forces. Longtime Daily Show correspondent John Oliver will take Stewart’s place during that time.
The movie, a drama titled Rosewater, is an adaptation of the memoir And Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, which tells the life story of Canadian-Iranian reporter Maziar Bahari. “I am a television person who is accustomed to having a thought at 10 a.m. and having it out there at 6:30 p.m. and moving on, so this is a little scary,” Stewart told the New York Times today. “But one of the reasons we are in this business is to challenge ourselves…and I really connected to Maziar’s story. It’s a personal story but one with universal appeal about what it means to be free.” The movie is scheduled to start shooting in June.
Bahari traveled to Iran from London in 2009 to cover the embattled country’s presidential election. He was eventually imprisoned in Tehran, where he endured three months of brutal interrogation. The Iranian government “accused [him] of plotting to stage a revolution against the government,” the Times points out, noting that Bahari’s captors used footage – wherein he appeared in a Daily Show field piece – as partial grounds for imprisonment. However, Bahari confirmed in a June 6, 2011 interview (see below) the Daily Show had nothing to do with his imprisonment.
And here’s the Daily Show field piece from 2009, wherein correspondent Jason Jones portrays a spy and interviews Bahari. Iranian officials attempted to build a case against Bahari, in part, by claiming Bahari was meeting with a real spy (Jones) and the pair were hatching a plan to overthrow the nation’s government.