Stewart has last laugh through '10


NEW YORK -- Comedy Central is getting more of Jon Stewart.

The network said late Thursday that it has signed an extension with the "Daily Show" host that will keep him around until at least 2010. Stewart's contract would have expired at the end of 2008.

Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, though sources estimate his salary is easily into the eight-figure range per year.

But the extension keeps the comedian with Comedy Central for another two years. Given the fact that Stewart is mentioned as a perennial candidate to succeed any of the late-night hosts on broadcast television, the timing of his new contract expiration is notable because 2010 is the same year David Letterman's deal at CBS ends.

CBS might not turn out to be his only option: Stewart reportedly met this year with NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, though Conan O'Brien already has been tapped to succeed Jay Leno in 2009.

The extension also will lock in Stewart past the 2008 election. He began hosting "The Daily Show" in January 1999 and signed a four-year extension on his most recent contract in 2004.

Stewart's hosting of the hit fake news show is just the beginning of his association with the Viacom unit. Stewart is executive producer/principal of Busboy Prods., which has a first-look agreement with Comedy Central. Shows done by Busboy include "The Colbert Report" and the newly announced "Important Things With Demetri Martin," which will premiere next year.

Stewart's contract extension also comes at a time when the network is spending big bucks to shore up its stars and shows. Comedy Central signed a $75 million deal with the creators of "South Park" that will keep it on the channel three more seasons to 2011. It also gives Matt Stone and Trey Parker a 50-50 split on ad revenue for new-media platforms.

And this week, Comedy Central launched a "Daily Show" Web site that provided a video archive of the show in individual clips stretching back to 1999, when Stewart took over for Craig Kilborn.