I'm a big admirer of John Oliver on The Daily Show. I'm not always crazy about their field pieces, which tend to make fun of the unsuspecting, but his always stand out to me, as being so charming and smart, while at the same time being withering. So, I was very pleased to see that he was named as the replacement host when Jon Stewart goes off for two months, starting Monday, to direct a movie.
In fact, several years ago, not long after John Oliver began on the show, I recommended him to a producer friend who was developing a film that would need a British comic actor to star in. (The movie didn't go forward, but I gained bonus points for good taste.) But then, I have had good luck recommend Daily Show Correspondents. Many years ago, over a decade, I recommended a little-known supporting guy from the Daily Show to a friend who had a series picked up by one of the networks, even though it hadn't been cast yet. My friend thought I made a good case for the actor, with his background at Second City and other small credits, but he knew the network would never approve a lead who was so little known. It was Steve Carrell. (In fairness to my friend, Carrell still was a few years away from The Office, and had to do several small roles on series before getting that. Also to my friend's credit, he has always remembered the suggestion -- so many people conveniently forget such things -- and later even hired him for a movie.)
Actually, I have a scary track record at recommending unknowns who soon after break through big. But that's a separate matter. For now, here's a link to a good Q&A interview with John Oliver in yesterday's Rolling Stone. It's quite interesting and self-effacing, making clear that he expects the ratings to plummet and that his goal is just to keep the show on the air. Also amusing is talking about some of the interview subjects who've gotten the most angry with him. Leading the pack was the Swiss ambassador. You'd have to think that anyone going on the show has to know what they're getting themselves into, and most especially at that level where they must do some heavy due diligence before saying "yes."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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