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Jon Stewart on The Daily Show

COURTING MR. STEWART

In your wildest imagination, can you picture the sharp-witted Jon Stewart presiding over the Sunday morning news program Meet the Press?

That was reportedly the game plan of the higher powers at NBC.

According to New York Magazine, the wiseacre host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was seriously pursued by the peacock network to helm the venerable news and interview program that began on radio in 1947 and has been previously hosted by the likes of Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw and Chris Wallace.

Reports of NBC attempting to poach Stewart from Comedy Central trickled out a mere four weeks after Chuck Todd took over MTP host duties from predecessor David Gregory (who hosted from 2008 to 2014).

Todd scored strong ratings for his first broadcast on September 7 – courtesy of an exclusive interview with U.S. President Barack Obama – but ratings have steadily slid downhill since, with Meet the Press currently resettled into its third-place position behind ABC's This Week and CBS's Face the Nation.

According to the New York Magazine report, NBC president Deborah Turness was actively pursuing Stewart to take over the program over the past summer.

The article cites three "senior television sources" claiming to have knowledge of the NBC-Stewart negotiations (none of them are identified by name).

Said one source: "They [NBC] were ready to back the Brink's truck up."

Although Stewart's stock-in-trade is comedy, he's steadily garnered respect in recent years for his informed interviews with political figures on The Daily Show.

In particular, Stewart was lauded for his 2012 interview with Obama in the late stages of his re-election campaign, when he asked the president, "Do you feel you have a stronger negative case for a second Barack Obama presidency or a stronger affirmative case for a [Mitt] Romney presidency?"

Earlier this year, White House press secretary Jay Carney called Stewart's sit-down with the commander-in-chief "the most substantive, challenging interview" of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Perhaps even more surprising was the new revelation that NBC attempted to sign Stewart to their team four years ago.

The same article claims that NBC Entertainment unsuccessfully courted Stewart in 2010 to host a variety program in the 10 p.m. timeslot.

NBC subsequently hired Tonight Show host Jay Leno for the 10 p.m. show, which was cancelled after five months due to low ratings.

So far, NBC's publicity department has declined to comment on the network's efforts to hire Stewart. Stewart's agent, James Dixon, did not responded to New York Magazine's requests for comment.

But what does the man currently occupying the host chair on Meet the Press think about the news that he may have been second choice for the job?

On Tuesday, Todd responded to the New York Magazine article by tweeting, "If it's Sunday, it's your moment of zen."

Which, of course, was a direct reference to Jon Stewart's "Moment of Zen" sign-off on The Daily Show.

FIGHTING BACK

Bill Maher has spoken out on his recent on-camera argument with Ben Affleck. On last Sunday night's episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, the host got into a heated shouting match with the Oscar-winning actor regarding the former's criticism of Islam. Affleck, in turn, accused Maher of being "gross and racist." On Tuesday, Maher told Salon that Affleck may have misunderstood his intentions and those of guest Sam Harris. "We're liberals!" said Maher. "We're not crazy tea-baggers, you know. So it's kind of hard to be making this case. I mean, do the people arguing with us, would they really open a lesbian art gallery in Ramallah? Or Karachi? Or Cairo? I don't know if they would back up what they're saying with action."

Source: Salon

HERE'S TO YOU

Kate Moss recently allowed her left breast to be immortalized with a Champagne coupe. The 40-year-old supermodel celebrated the debut of the new coupe this week at a gala event in London. Moss followed the tradition of Marie Antoinette, whose own left breast was rumoured to have inspired a Champagne goblet during her reign as queen of France in the late 1700s. "I was excited to participate in this project," Moss told Vogue U.K. magazine. "What an honour to be alongside Marie Antoinette. She was a very intriguing and mischievous character."

Source: Us Weekly

HONEST MISTAKE?

Amanda Bynes says her detainment by security staff for shoplifting in New York this week was a misunderstanding. On Wednesday, the 28-year-old actress was detained at Barneys New York after she left the store without paying for a hat she was wearing. "I was walking out of the store to get my handbag out of the car," Bynes told People magazine. "I walked out of the store and the sensor went off. I didn't realize I was wearing my cap. And the cap – I was purchasing it, and I was actually still shopping." Bynes also confirmed that Barneys made her sign a no-trespass affidavit banning her from the store. "They said, 'Please, just don't shop at Barneys anymore.' But oh well, it's fine," said Bynes.

Source: People

PIPE DREAMS

With apologies to Cheech and Chong, smoking marijuana does not make a person more creative. New research from Leiden University in the Netherlands has revealed the long-standing belief that ingesting marijuana to improve creativity is a fallacy and in fact can actually make a person less creative. Researchers divided 54 habitual pot-smokers into three groups of 18 and provided two of them with varying amounts of marijuana (the third group was given a placebo). Participants were then asked to complete a series of cognitive tasks, including word puzzles and problem-solving challenges. The results showed that those subjects who consumed the highest dose of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana) had the worst success in accomplishing the tasks. "The improved creativity that they believe they experience is an illusion," said study author Dr. Lorenza Colzato.

Source: Medical Daily

MORNING MEAL

For kids all over the world, there's more to breakfast than cereal, oatmeal or toast. The New York Times explores different morning meal traditions in a fascinating new article. The story reveals that children in Japan routinely consume a rice and putrid soybean concoction called natto. Children in Jamaica are fond of a mush made of plantains or peanuts or cornmeal. Most Chinese kids took jook, a rice gruel topped with pickled tofu and dried meat or egg. And children in southern India are likely to start the day with a steamed cake made from fermented lentils and rice known as idli. "The idea that children should have bland, sweet food is a very industrial presumption," said New York University food studies professor Krishnendu Ray, who grew up in India.

Source: The New York Times