Jon Stewart has spent the summer in Jordan shooting his directorial debut, Rosewater, an adaptation of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari's memoir Then They Came for Me, about his captivity in Iran's infamous Evin Prison following the 2009 elections. (Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Bahari. Could be good!) In that time, John Oliver proved himself as something more than a stopgap measure: In a few short months, the cheeky Brit convinced a nation of skeptic Stewart diehards that — if that tragic day did come, and Stewart did leave — the show would be in very capable hands. (And what about his own future career prospects? Was this just the campaign he needs to launch The Semi-Weekly Show With John Oliver?) But forget all that for now. For now, let's focus on that long-desired day: Jon Stewart is back! On last night's broadcast, our man finally came home.
And he wasted no time being funny. In this first bit, a now Middle Eastern'd–out Stewart has to be recalibrated for America. At one point he dresses like Hitler, and that's always a good time.
Are you ready to know where The Simpsons' Springfield is? Are you sure? The show's creator, Matt Groening, has, after 25 years, coughed up the answer in an expansive interview with Claudia de la Roca, a former Simpsons and Futurama producer, for Smithsonian Magazine (get it, Smithsonian Magazine). And The Truth! May! Shock You! No, actually, it makes perfect sense. Mostly, it’s surprising we weren’t all already assuming that it was that Springfield. OK, sorry, sorry. On to the big reveal:
Nobody panic, but SNL might be getting rocked this offseason. According to US Weekly — the most trusted name in tabloid journalism — Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jason Sudeikis are all flying the coop.
Are you ready to have Britney Spears as a regular presence inside your living room? According to multiplesources, Simon Cowell is nearing a deal to land Britney Spears as a judge on The X Factor. And all it's going to take is $10 million a year!
Monday, The Office confirmed that James Spader is leaving his cushy gig as Dunder Mifflin CEO Robert California (he was only booked for 15 episodes) at the end of this season. In a statement, executive producer Paul "Toby Flenderson" Lieberstein says:
"James came to The Office to play a role that was two scenes long in the season 7 finale. He instantly brought so much life and intrigue to the part that those two scenes became a season. James always wanted this to be a one year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television. He’s been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I’m grateful for that. I’m already looking for ways to work with him again."
While CBS says they have “no knowledge” of the incident, Fox News is reporting that a man named Jeff Rice — who worked as a freelance facilitating producer for The Amazing Race, setting up the show's competitions and challenges — has died in Kampala, Uganda. Rice was part of the team that worked on The Amazing Race's 20th season, which just premiered on Sunday, but he was not working on the show at the time of the incident. Fox News is calling it a “failed shakedown attempt,” adding "after refusing to give in to the demands of local thugs, Rice and another facilitator ended up very sick with poisoning of some kind.” The name of the other facilitator has not been reported, but apparently she is now “clinging for her life.” The details of the situation were confirmed by Rice's widow, Sally Blackman.
According to Blackman, “They were not attacked but [evidence] points towards being poisoned. [A]t this stage it is quite difficult to give you any firm reports as the incident is currently under investigation by the Uganda police.” She adds: “I would not like to speculate or even attempt to give my views on this as this may jeopardize the investigation going forward. His production assistant, currently working for [Rice's company] Maverick Entertainment, was also discovered in a coma and has been hospitalized in Uganda. She has not shown any improvement as [of] yet." And lastly: “Jeff was a dedicated father who made the most of his time with his family when back home in South Africa. He has left a huge void, not only in the film industry, but with his family he has left behind. We will miss his smiles and constant humor.”
Well, that's insane. It's always been clear that some of the countries The Amazing Race visits are very dangerous, but a situation like this suggests that perhaps the local producers working for the show are the ones in the actual way of harm. And while it won't change anything for Rice and his family, let's hope that CBS investigates and figures out what kind of situations they are putting their freelance employees into.