Next week, comedian John Oliver will take over as the host of “The Daily Show,” while Jon Stewart takes the Summer off to direct a movie. In advance of the move, Oliver is doing what Stewart did only rarely: talk to the media.
In a handful of interviews, the man who will effectively become the cable news “critic-in-chief” talks ratings, TV news and the voice of the show.
Will the voice of “The Daily Show” change when you’re its anchor?The voice is going to change, in so far as words are going to be pronounced accurately. And there are going to be a lot more u’s on the prompter. I don’t want to see c-o-l-o-r on the prompter or there’s going to be hell to pay. I’ve been here seven years, so the voice of the show has moved into my DNA as well. I don’t know if it’s going to be particularly recognizable, other than there’s going to be a different face and a different sounding voice saying it.
The Hollywood Reporter: Not to put any pressure on you, but what happens if the ratings go down?
John Oliver: The ratings are going to go down. Ice is cold, and the ratings of this show are going to go down in the summer. Add to that the fact that I’m here, so you’ll have your regular summer decline and that will become a more elemental nosedive. I just need to Sully myself — you know, like Chesley Sullenberger — I’ve got to at least land this show in the water. So I know the ratings are going to go down, I just have to make sure that they don’t collapse.
THR: Jon has something of a bromance going with Bill O’Reilly. Who is your favorite cable news personality?
Oliver: Is there a personality that I admire the way Jon admires Bill? Oh, I admire all of them like that. There are some people who work on cable news that I like a lot. I like Fareed Zakaria a lot. But he’s on for an hour a week, which is what seems realistic. You can’t report the news 24 hours a day because you need to pause and reflect on things. That’s not even journalism, that’s just part of being a human. If you’re just constantly regurgitating every single thought that comes into your head, literally talking faster than you’re thinking, you’re going to end up making a pathetic circus of things. Which is what CNN became during [coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt], just flinging anything that sounded like a fact everywhere — like a crop sprayer.