Stewart drops out of black-tie event

Wed Feb 6, 2008 1:51am EST
 
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Jon Stewart has pulled out of an entertainment gala -- only it's not the Oscars. The comedian has withdrawn from a hosting gig at a Paley Center fundraiser honoring Viacom chieftain Sumner Redstone under circumstances that might be related to the 3-month-old labor stoppage.

The invitation for the black-tie event Thursday at the New York Waldorf-Astoria, sent out several weeks ago, announces Stewart, who hosts a show owned by Viacom's Comedy Central, as the evening's emcee.

But organizers said Tuesday that Stewart wouldn't host, with Charlie Rose filling in as emcee.

Representatives of Viacom and the Paley Center spokesperson on Tuesday chalked up the decision to Stewart's added workload hosting "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" without his stable of writers, who remain on strike.

But sources said that with the threat of the Writers Guild of America picketing the Paley Center event, Stewart decided it best to stay home.

The WGA East acknowledged that it had at one point contemplated picketing or leafleting the event. But the organization has since dropped those plans, perhaps because Stewart's absence already conveys the message they intended to deliver.

The event is to be attended by a host of heavy-hitters, including top executives from nearly every major entertainment conglomerate.

The WGA has not picketed nontelevised events, but observers said that a Redstone-focused event might have been a tempting target, along with the ability to threaten a picket and stop WGA member Stewart from attending.

Stewart's bigger gala appearance, at the February 24 Academy Awards, remains in question, although Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Monday insisted that the show would go on as planned.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>Jon Stewart poses with his award for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>