Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Comedy Central extends Stewart's contract

The Associated Press

Comedy Central has locked up its biggest star, Jon Stewart, to continue as host of the comic newscast The Daily Show through next year's presidential election.

Stewart, 40, and Comedy Central have extended a contract that was to expire this year, said Bill Hilary, the network's general manager.

"He's very important to us and it's a flagship show," Hilary said.

Word of the deal slipped out after AOL Time Warner sold its stake in the cable network to Viacom. The two media giants had shared Comedy Central since 1991, when MTV's Ha! channel merged with HBO's Comedy Channel.

The Daily Show (11 p.m. weekdays) has increased its audience by 10 percent over last year, mostly among viewers 18-34, Hilary said.

Hilary said he'll reopen talks this fall about extending the contract further for Stewart, whose name always comes up when there's a late-night vacancy at one of the broadcast networks.

Viacom also owns MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, VH1, Country Music Television, TV Land, Showtime, Noggin and TNN (to be renamed Spike TV in June).

Custody fight: Andy Sipowicz and Connie McDowell (Dennis Franz, Charlotte Ross) attempt to adopt her late sister's baby on NYPD Blue (10 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2), the fourth script this season from Forest Park native Greg Plageman.

The father's parents tonight vow to get custody of the baby, setting up a four-week sweeps story taking Andy to former co-worker Diane Russell (Kim Delaney) May 13 to investigate the grandparents.

Plageman, a 1987 St. Xavier High School graduate, says he plans to return for a second season writing for the ABC drama. "Without a doubt, I'd have to say this has been the most rewarding year for me on a professional level," he says.

TV today: Want to drive the Zamboni at a Mighty Ducks game? Be a sports trivia expert on Gary Burbank's WLW-AM Sports or Consequences show? Those two "unique experiences," plus lunch with Reyne Haines, an Antiques Roadshow appraiser, at the Maisonette and a personal tour of her Reyne Gallery, are up for bid on the Action Auction (4-11 p.m., Channel 48).

American Idol heads into the final four weeks with five performers (8 p.m., Channels 19, 45).

Harm (David James Elliott) hopes that Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service clear him of a murder charge in the conclusion of a two-part JAG (8 p.m., Channels 12, 7) which serves as a pilot for a CSI: JAG-style show.

Biography profiles actor Patrick Stewart (8 p.m., A&E).

MC Lyte and Ginuwine guest on Platinum (9 p.m., Channel 25).

Young Clark (Tom Welling) tries to stop a robbery on Smallville (9 p.m., Channels 64, 26).

Talk shows: Today's guests:

Regis and Kelly (9 a.m., Channel 9): Andy Dick.

Wayne Brady (10 a.m., Channel 9): Alexis Bledel, Kurtwood Smith.

The View (11 a.m., Channel 9): Julia-Louis Dreyfus.

Caroline Rhea (3 p.m., Channel 19): Richard Belzer.

John Kiesewetter and TV Data contributed to this report.

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