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The cable network confirmed Tuesday night that it would not be moving forward with its plans for a shortform animation venture from the former Daily Show host, a collaboration first announced in November 2015. Both parties have agreed to shelve the project, which sources say turned out to be more complicated than either initially expected.
“HBO and Jon Stewart have decided not to proceed with a shortform digital animated project,” the pair said in a joint 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. We’re excited to report that we have some future projects together which you will be hearing about in the near future.”
Shortly after he stepped down as the host of Comedy Central’s flagship series following a 16-year run, Stewart signed a four-year production deal with HBO. As part of the pact, he would work with cloud-graphics company OTOY to develop new technology that would allow him to produce timely shortform digital content.
“Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me. I’m pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again,” Stewart had said at the time.
The idea was for the material to be refreshed on HBO’s digital platforms — HBO Now and HBO Go — multiple times throughout the day. But sources say it was the one-day turnaround that became a sticking point for the project. From a technological standpoint, it became clear in recent weeks that it was going to be too difficult to create and distribute the sophisticated animation within the short window.
The digital shorts were originally expected to debut ahead of the presidential election, so as to provide commentary on the campaigns — but when delays became apparent, HBO reportedly told Stewart to take the necessary time on the project. Ultimately scrapping plans for the venture is sure to be have been a significant loss in time and investment.
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
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