Jon Stewart’s long-awaited HBO animation project is officially dead

Rest in peace, mysterious animated project.
Rest in peace, mysterious animated project.
Image: AP Photo/Cliff Owen
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Sorry, Jon Stewart fans—you’ll have to wait a little longer for the comedian’s return to television. HBO has scrapped Stewart’s much-anticipated follow-up to The Daily Show, the network confirmed. The New York Times first reported the news last night.

After ending his 17-year run as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in 2015, Stewart inked a lucrative four-year, multi-platform deal with HBO. His first project was going to be a series of daily, animated shorts parodying a cable news network, designed for HBO’s digital platforms. Intended to launch before the 2016 US presidential election, the project was delayed until early 2017, HBO programming chief Casey Bloys said shortly after the election came and went with nothing from Stewart.

Now HBO and Stewart have decided to scrap the idea entirely. The project was a massive undertaking, which included Stewart building out his own animation studio at the network.

“HBO and Jon Stewart have decided not to proceed with a short form digital animated project,” HBO said in a statement. “We all thought the project had great potential, but there were technical issues in terms of production and distribution that proved too difficult given the quick turnaround and topical nature of the material.”

Still, Stewart remains in his deal with HBO, and the network teased that its relationship with the beloved satirist will soon bear fruit: “We’re excited to report that we have some future projects together, which you will be hearing about in the near future.”

The premium cable channel had a similar setback with another of its high-profile figures, sports personality Bill Simmons, who signed a multifaceted deal with HBO a few months before Stewart did the same. The network canceled Simmons’ weekly talk show, Any Given Sunday, after just four months on the air.

Though the news is a blow to HBO, the network has always been driven by its talent, and the cancelation is a small price to pay for a continued relationship with one of the most sought-after people in comedy. Stewart has generally stayed out of the spotlight since leaving The Daily Show, popping up every now and then to call Donald Trump a “man-baby” or appear on his friend and protégé Stephen Colbert’s late night CBS show.

HBO’s decision is a bigger blow to Stewart’s rabid fan base, comprised mostly of American liberals hungry for the comedian’s take on the Trump presidency. While they can already get that weekly on HBO from comedian John Oliver (another Stewart disciple), there’s been a certain gravitas missing from American political comedy since Stewart left The Daily Show. Whatever his next project is, HBO hopes it can recapture some of that magic.