LOS ANGELES Comedian Jon Stewart will take a break as host of satirical television news show "The Daily Show" beginning in June to direct a serious film about a journalist's imprisonment in Iran, network Comedy Central said on Tuesday.
The exact dates of Stewart's hiatus have yet to be finalized but he will miss eight weeks of original episodes of the popular show that has turned the 50-year-old comedian into a prominent political and social voice.
British comedian John Oliver, 35, who is also a correspondent on the Emmy-winning series, will fill in as host while Stewart takes a break from comedy to direct his first feature film - "Rosewater."
The film centers on Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari who was working for Newsweek magazine when he was arrested in Iran and held in prison for four months following the country's disputed 2009 election that drew mass protests against the government.
Stewart also wrote the script for the adaptation of Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival." The book details Bahari's imprisonment, which he said included beatings and psychological stress.
The comedian became linked to Bahari after an interview the journalist gave to one of the program's fake correspondents ended up as evidence the Iranian government used to accuse Bahari of espionage.
Bahari was freed on $300,000 bail in October 2009 and left Iran.
Comedy Central is owned by Viacom.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Mohammad Zargham)