Jon Stewart Preparing Directorial Debut, ‘Rosewater’

Comedy Central will be missing one central figure for much of the summer—The Daily Show host Jon Stewart (or as your mother knows him, “Jon Daily”) will be taking a hiatus to film his directorial debut. (Regular correspondent John Oliver will host in the interim.)

The film, a drama called Rosewater, will be an adaptation of Canadian-Iranian journalist Mazir Bahari’s memoir, Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, in which he and Aimee Molloy chronicle his trip to Iran to cover the elections and subsequent four-month stint in a Tehran prison.

Lest we forget, before Jon Stewart became one of America’s finest news sources, he actually had something of an acting career—he was in the lesser Adam Sandler picture, Big Daddy, and stoner comedy Half-Baked. And, let’s not forget, he was in Death to Smoochy. Rosewater should be much heavier fare, though.

Stewart interviewed Bahari, from whose memoir Stewart’s work derives, on an episode of The Daily Show. As a matter of fact, Bahari’s captors in Iran used the interview as evidence against him for his and the other guests’ criticisms of Iran. Watch that interview below. 


[via the L.A. Times]

Party Like There’s No Tomorrow Because There Isn’t One

The best part about the end of the world happening tomorrow are all of the parties happening tonight. We like to laugh and drink in the face of doom, and I find that really admirable. BlackBook’s holiday party is tonight too, which means that whether the world ends or not, it doesn’t matter – I’ll still feel like death on Friday.  If you don’t have plans yet for your last night on Earth, let me help you with these really hot parties happening tonight and tomorrow that’ll be swallowed up by fog and a fiery blaze.

Drink bottomless margaritas, sangria, and wine from Tequileria Maya’s "Apocalypse Menu:"
This isn’t happening unless we survive most of Friday, so let’s really cross our fingers that we will. The celebratory "Apocalypse Menu" at Tequileria Maya, Richard Sandoval’s appropriately-named tequila bar and lounge, includes unlimited – I repeat – unlimited food and drinks. We’re talking margaritas, sangria, wine, Mexican beers, and small plates. We better survive. Friday the 21st. 5pm, $65. All the details here

Dance like no one’s watching even though they are at Hudson Terrace:
Event company iAdventure encourages you to "grab that famous outfit you’ve been saving for a special occasion that may never come," and head to Midtown rooftop lounge Hudson Terrace, where you can dance wildly to songs from DJ Lulo & Bones. Thursday the 20th. 11pm, $30. Tickets available here.

Laugh your doom off with The Daily Show comedians at Union Hall:
On Friday, join comedians Wyatt Cenac, NIkki Glaser, & Lisa Delarios for their "The Afterlife Comedy Show" at Union Hall. They’ll be performing stand-up and attempting to resolve, in our last hours, life’s biggest questions – probably something like"Why does my grandma not love me anymore?" and "Why are poached eggs called ‘poached?’" And there will be an extra-special prize for the best answer to the major question: "What would you do on your last day of the world?" Friday the 21st. 8:30pm, $8. Tickets available here

Blow your eardrums out at Knitting Factory because you won’t need them anymore:
Guaranteeing that their apocalpyse-themed rock show will "rock so hard that its reverberations will shatter planet Earth to the core," Knitting Factory will make your ears ring the next day – though there won’t be a next day so who cares. Rock bands Autodrone, Starbolt 9, and Night Vision form this last rock show on Earth. Friday the 21st. 11:55pm, $12. Buy tickets here

Get weird with HuffPost Weird News at Hotel Chantelle:
The HuffPost section devoted to all things bizarre nationwide is holding an open tequila and wine bar all night,  and 1/2 off beer and well cocktails from 8pm-10pm, at eccentric Lower East Side rooftop lounge Hotel Chantelle. Music by Miss Jade, Chi Duly, and LadiesPlease will be going all night, while revelers will cradle tequila shots and dutifully declare the slogan "No tomorrow. No hangover." Good ol’ logic. Thursday the 20th. 8pm, free. All the details here

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Hugh Grant Agrees With Jon Stewart That He’s Kind Of A Dick

It probably does not come as a surprise to anyone that Jon Stewart found Hugh Grant to be just as noxious as his Bridget Jones’ Diary character. But it is perhaps a surprise that he found Grant to be so difficult he will never invite him onto The Daily Show again.

Earlier this week at the Montclair Film Festival, Montclair resident Stephen Colbert interviewed his former boss and asked him about his least favorite guest of all time: Hugh Grant, who was promoting his 2009 rom-com Did You Hear About The Morgans?.  "He’s giving everyone s–t the whole time, and he’s a big pain in the ass," Stewart explained. "… [A]nd we’ve had dictators on the show." Chief among Grant’s whiny concerns were that he didn’t like the clip from the film played during the interview. The British actor is "never" coming back, Stewart huffed.

In typical oozy British style, Grant acknowledged Stewart’s comments and his own assholishness — but didn’t apologize. The actor tweeted yesterday:

If Hugh Grant was unpleasant for the one day commitment of a Daily Show appearance, we can only imagine what sort of secrets Renee Zellweger, Sarah Jessica Parker and the entire cast of Love, Actually are keeping mum. 

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Samantha Bee In ‘NYTimes’ Sends Up Study Finding GOP Is Party Of Girly-Girls

We know the manliest members of Congress are the ones with the biggest shotguns and the quietest mistresses. But what about the most feminine members of Congress? Which party has the ladies whose phyiscally pleasing cheekbone height makes you feel she is the least likely to scream at you about equal pay and reproductive rights like a castrating harridan? The Republicans, of course. As The Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee so gaily explains in The New York Times Sunday Review this week, an entire study out of UCLA was devoted to just that.

The study, Bee writes, asked undergrads to look at pictures of women in Congress, assess who had the most feminine facial structure, and then attempt identify the party which she belonged. It found that students believed the more feminine a woman’s face appares, the more conservative her views, and vice versa. 

And all for … what? … Bee asks. What purpose does such a study actually serve (other than to give the likes of the New York Post and the UK Daily Mail fodder for "LIBERAL LASSES ARE MANNISH UGLY LESBIANS" headlines?). Bee asks:

[I]s it the part that suggests that a key factor in the electability and, dare I say, presence of a female politician on a national stage can be dependent on something as random as the placement of her eyebrows? Are there really subtle ways in which people would consider a woman suitable for office that are rooted in their visceral reaction to the width and prominence of her cheekbones? Well, probably. All I know is that once I finished reading the study I’m pretty sure 1970s Burt Reynolds reached across the passenger seat of his Trans Am to give me a wink and a boob honk.

Here’s a possible useful explanation: feminist icon Gloria Steinem has said before that the first woman to be elected president would have to be an arch-conservative. Liberals may be more OK with electing a moderate or liberal woman, but conservatives will only advance someone who does not seem feminized, weak, and (God no!) compassionate. So I would put two and two together and venture it says something about the Republican party that some of it’s most conservative women are also the girly-girls. Those are the ones who are allowed to advance. 

And they probably don’t talk back if you give ’em a boob honk.

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Stewart-O’Reilly Rumble May Be Closest We Get To Elevated Discourse

As if this election hadn’t already reached critical mass of ridiculousness, it’s about to get 100% shoutier. In a last-ditch attempt for anything remotely resembling elevated or even bearable political discourse before the 2012 election, longtime punditry peers and “frenemies” Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart will spar on the issues affecting the country during election-time. Under the tagline “It’s Why Al Gore Invented the Internet,” the Daily Show satirist-turned-voice-of-frustration and Fox News’ resident rage-face will do it live for IRL and web audiences, and if the respected pundit faces of blue and red states respectively can get together and shout over each other, so can the rest of us, right? 

“O’Reilly v. Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” will take place Saturday, October 6 at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Pre-sale tickets are on sale now, and the whole thing will be broadcast online via a $4.95 Internet stream, with half the profits going to charity. Those who pre-order tickets by October 1 can submit a question for the two parties to debate. 

We would have liked to see rapper, Renaissance man and longtime O’Reilly nemesis Ludacris as the moderator for this debate, because although that would perhaps taint the integrity of a good, honest debate, it would be excellent. But, instead, news anchor E.D. Hill, a veteran of CNN and Fox News, will moderate. 

The Constitution Rewritten by a Man Who Drinks Coffee At Breakfast

Ratified in the summer of 1788, the United States Constitution is an oldie but a goodie (it is, in fact, the oldest of any active national constitution in the world). It ensured a system of checks and balances, protected households from occupation by dirty soldiers, and even insisted that our judiciary be on good behavior. To boot, why would Nicholas Cage need to steal it if it wasn’t such an important document? And, thus, why would Kevin Bleyer, humble writer of “legalize pot” jokes for The Daily Show, need to rewrite a document that’s protected by The Cage?

There’s one main reason. And I’m not generally one to throw around ad hominems, but there’s something we should know about James Madison & Co. Sure, Jefferson had slaves. And yes, John Adams wrote of women that he wouldn’t trade the tyranny of King George III for “the despotism of the petticoat.” But our basis for reserve is more empirical than this: the framers were drunks. Writes Bleyer, “They began each morning with a ‘small beer’ for breakfast—water and milk were considered unsafe—and they kept the party rolling during the day with hard cider and rum.” Madison himself drank a pint of whiskey every day. John Hancock kept a gallon of rum punch by his bedside. On September 14, 1787, fifty-five of those guys went into City Tavern in Philadelphia and drank “sixty bottles of claret, fifty-four bottles of Madeira, fifty bottles of ‘old stock,’ vats of porter, cider, and beer, and what’s been described as ‘some’ bowls of rum punch.”

Come the end of “four month’s toil,” the seven pages they wound up with weren’t half bad. But, notes Bleyer, “it is what you get when you drink beer for breakfast.”

Now, how could drunks write such grandiloquent things as “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” or, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”? Answer: they didn’t. The former comes from the Declaration of Independence, the latter from Karl Marx. But a 1987 study found that half of Americans thought Marx’s line came from the Constitution, and a 2009 Tea Party rally indicated that Speaker John Boehner thought Jefferson’s maxim was found in the Preamble. And for all the tri-tipped hat-wearing patriots out there looking to protect their Constitution from the tarnish of modernity, Bleyer nods to another convenient zinger from Thomas Jefferson: in a letter to Madison, he wrote, “The earth belongs always to the living generation…. Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years.” That is, according to Jefferson, 1800 called—it wants its Constitution back. And its stupid hats.

A proposed rewrite of the Constitution, Me The People is actually a pretty dense commentary on the document’s history (it’s how I got the cool facts cited above). I guess not surprisingly, it’s a bit like reading a Jon Stewart monologue, if the top story of the evening was that “there’s a Constitution,” and if the teleprompter allowed 300 pages worth of copy. In a similar fashion to a Stewart bit, Bleyer’s “rewrite” is really just a handful of quips/policy suggestions along the lines of, “come on people, let’s not be stupid.” (From his rewrite of Article VI: “Do you belong to an extremist version of your religion? If so, do you swear to whatever god you believe in that you’ll Chill Out for a while? You will? Cool.”)

But Bleyer’s project isn’t all armchair lulz—he does his fieldwork, including a search for a real-life John Hancock and a lunch date with Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia. The chapter on the Judiciary, in particular, is notable for pointing out how the branch originally given the least amount of thought has effectively become the most powerful. That is, a Justice can wait to retire until their ideological pal takes the White House, or they could never retire and just drift into senility while holding one of nine chairs given the task of protecting the document that could only otherwise be safeguarded by the star of Bangkok Dangerous.

His treatment of the Amendments is a bit lighter, but then again, George Mason did suggest that the first ten—you know, the Bill of Rights—“might be prepared in a few hours.” Can you name the 7th Amendment? Me neither, and I just read the book yesterday, so I suppose it’s convenient that Bleyer opted to simply remove it.

One of the best anecdotes is nestled into the passage on the 19th Amendment, wherein Harry T. Burn (real person), a member of the Tennessee State Assembly, effectively puts women’s suffrage into law after this nudge from his mother: “‘I have been watching how you stood,’ she wrote, ‘but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy.’”

Speaking of good boys, the only other order of business was to touch up the 21st Amendment, replacing “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed,” with a little nugget that could’ve been helpful the first time around: “Drink responsibly.” Cheers, Kevin Bleyer, you done good. And to the reader, may I recommend that you chase this actually-sort-of-legitimate history lesson with some claret (whatever the hell that is), or Madeira, or “some” rum punch. You may call it boozin’. The framers called it “necessary.” Let’s split the odds, and say it’s just your moment of Zen. 

Aasif Mandvi Gets To Know the Cocktails of Summer 2012

Aasif Mandvi meets me on the exceedingly pleasant pool deck at Jimmy, a posh cocktail lounge on the 18th floor of the James hotel in lower Manhattan popular with models, actors, and bewildered European tourists. It’s late afternoon and the sun is high in a cloudless sky, taking its sweet time floating across the Hudson before disappearing somewhere in western New Jersey. Johnny Swet, who runs the cocktail program at Jimmy—and also owns, with Larry Poston, the elegant Hotel Griffou—is going over with us the details of the evening’s cocktails, a collection of summer drinks that represent innovative takes on the classics as well as a few new ideas. 

It’s an appropriately sophisticated way for Mandvi to break his fast. The actor, comedian, and writer has been teetotal for six months, going on a self-imposed booze hiatus to focus on his creative pursuits, of which there are many. He’s a regular correspondent for The Daily Show, interviewing "crazy people and racists" across the country and trading quips with Jon Stewart. He’s been acting in a number of movies, from Premium Rush with Joseph Gordon Levitt, to Gods Behaving Badly with Christopher Walken, to Ruby Sparks with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan. He even had a "teeny weeny role" in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. He’s been promoting the DVD release of his 2010 romantic comedy Today’s Special, including taping a "culinary tour of New York" that aired on the Cooking Channel. And he’s been writing an as-yet-untitled book. 
"It’s a collection of essays about my life, my childhood in England, both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 America, and growing up as a brown kid of Muslim origin," he says. So what’s it like growing up as a brown kid of Muslim origin? "You’ll have to wait for the book," he adds. "Or just watch Fox News, they know what it’s like."  What we know, however, is that there are seven sublime cocktails that await our critique, so we head inside to a corner banquette, as Mandvi deftly parries the advances of a teetering fan ("Oh my god, are you on The Daily Show? What’s your name?") and tastes the sweet elixir of al-kuḥl that he denied himself for half a year. The results are enlightening. 
Curious George
Muddle a 2 inch chunk of ripe banana with ½ oz lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, 2 oz Linie Aquavit, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh cubed ice. Add a dash of St. George Absinthe Verte and a dash of chocolate bitters. 
"I love the licorice taste in this. To use a musical metaphor, it has a nice bass line to it. It has substance and weight. The banana adds to the tactile experience. It’s like an alcoholic smoothie, and you get your potassium."
Blair Witch Cocktail
In a tall glass, pour 2 oz Original Moonshine, ½ oz lime juice, and ½ oz Velvet Falernum. Add cubed ice and top with birch beer. Stir and garnish with fresh bay leaf and brandied cherries. 
"It reminds me of Dandelion and Burdock, a drink I had growing up in England. It makes me want to watch The Blair Witch Project again. I think that if you drank this cocktail and then watched the movie it would make more sense. Whenever I hear moonshine it makes me think of The Dukes of Hazzard. Cocktails in general have a femininity to them but this is a man’s drink." 
Rosarito Beach Margarita
Muddle two fresh strawberries with a sprig of cilantro in a rocks glass. Add 2 oz Herradura Silver Tequila, ½ oz agave nectar, and ½ oz lime juice. Add crushed ice and stir until frosty. Garnish with a strawberry slice and a sprig of cilantro. 
"I like the cilantro, it’s kind of minty. I usually drink margaritas when I’m trying to get laid. I’m a big fan of tequila. Margaritas just make me happy, this one especially. It looks like an aquarium of strawberries." 
Going Back to Cali
Muddle 3 chunks of avocado in a shaker with 3/4 oz of lime juice. Add ice, 1/2 oz of Tuaca Vanilla Citrus Liqueur, and 2 oz of aged rum. Shake hard and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
"This has a custardy feeling to it. It’s like a meal. Very creamy. Like a salad and a dessert mixed in one. I feel like I’m eating Key lime pie out of a martini glass. There’s something very soothing about it." 
Summer Negroni
In an ice-filled rocks glass add 1 oz Nolet’s Gin, 1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, and 1 oz Campari. Stir and garnish with an orange peel. To make it extra sexy use one large block of ice instead of cubed ice.
"This is ayurvedic. It’s a sipper. It’s a very grown-up cocktail. I may actually be too immature for this cocktail. There’s a bitter quality to it, it has an edge. It’s businesslike. You’re at the Soho House signing contracts with this one. I like things that have a huge chunk of ice in the middle, like me." 
Grapes of Wrath
In a tall glass muddle 3 green grapes. Add 2 oz of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, 3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and 1/2 oz of lemon juice. Add ice and stir in club soda. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
"It’s so refreshing you could swim in this cocktail. This is one of my favorites. It feels fun, like I’m out by the pool. It feels like summer to me, like lemonade. It puts me on a raft in a pool in Miami."
Grilled Pineapple Mojito
Muddle 6 mint leaves and 6 chunks of grilled pineapple in a shaker. Add 2 ounces Barbancourt Haitian rum, 1 oz pineapple juice, and ½ oz lime juice. Dry shake and strain into a tall glass. Add crushed ice and stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of grilled pineapple.
"When I look at this I think of Africa. It might be my favorite cocktail of the evening. This is like a crocodile. No, I take that back, it’s not like a crocodile, but there’s a deadliness to it. It reminds me of a girl I knew who looked slutty but was actually very sweet. I want to say it’s dirty. It looks like swamp water and tastes like fun."
[Photo: Yves Salmon]

Hot Tub’s Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal Deliver Laughs to Gowanus

This week, we’re bringing you video interviews with some of the most respected names in New York comedy. While many think of comedy shows as cheesy affairs featuring lame stand-up comics and two-drink minimums, a new crowd of performers are changing the game by hosting their own shows to showcase their own talents as well as those of their friends, colleagues, and heroes. Today, we check in with Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler, hosts of Hot Tub. 

Comedians Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, and 30 Rock) and Kurt Braunohler (IFC’s Bunk and known Wikipedia vandal) have been hosting their popular Hot Tub variety show since 2005. After runs in Manhattan at The PIT, Pianos, and Comix, they have settled in at Littlefield, located in the booming comedy mecca of Gowanus, Brooklyn. What brings these best friends together every Monday at 8 PM? Watch our interview and find out, and then check out their show tonight

‘Daily Show’ Correspondent Aasif Mandvi’s Favorite Indian Spots in New York

Actor, comedian, and Daily Show Senior Muslim Correspondent Aasif Mandvi is a slender guy, but he loves to eat. So much so, in fact, that much of his work is food-related. Early in his career, he won an Obie award for his one-man show, Sakina’s Restaurant, which served as the inspiration for Today’s Special, a 2010 film about a young sous chef who abandons his dreams of cooking French cuisine to take over his father’s Indian restaurant. “Today’s Special is my labor of love,” Mandvi tells us. “It’s a great little romantic comedy that deals with Indian food, and if you are a foodie, you will love the movie. It’s got so much food porn in it.” 

Today’s Special is now out on DVD, (purchase it here, if you like) and it’s a good pick for those looking for a few tips on Indian cooking. And even though he’s got bigger fish to fry these days—he’s in a slew of upcoming movies, from Premium Rush to Gods Behaving Badly to a “teeny tiny role” in The Dictator—he’s not leaving the kitchen just yet. Instead, he’s teaming up with the food gurus at the Cooking Channel for a show called Today’s Special: NY Indian, in which he hooks up with culinary legend Madhur Jaffrey on a tour of Indian cuisine across New York City. Today’s Special: NY Indian premieres on the Cooking Channel on May 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm, and will be repeated a bunch of times through mid-June. I had a few drinks with Mandvi at Jimmy recently (see BlackBook’s upcoming June/July issue for details on that) and asked him where he likes to get Indian food in New York when he’s not cooking it himself. 

Dawat: "Madhur Jaffrey is the genius behind Dawat and its eclectic dishes. You’ll come for the food, but you will stay because of … well the food. What I’m saying is you will enjoy eating here." 

Junoon: "I love the design and the ambience, plus the really fantastic and innovative dishes. If you want to have romance and spice and class it up, this is your place." 

Rajbhog: "It’s in Jackson Heights, Queens, but if you want to try exceptional and traditional Indian sweets you’ve got to pay a visit. Also they make the best sweet dahi vada that I have eaten in a long time. They also have a kickin dance floor where you can dance the night away. Okay, that’s a lie, but they do have some Bollywood movies playing on the flat screen. And did I mention the dahi vada?"

East 6th Street in Manhattan: "This is a rite of passage for anybody eating Indian food in New York. The entire street is brightly lit with Christmas lights all year long and the owners of each restaurant feel no qualms in harassing you to come into their particular establishment. It’s a cartoon version of India, (gaudy, tacky, utterly entertaining, but the food is not half bad, meaning it’s also not half good) willingly perpetuated by Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants who will do and say anything to get New Yorkers through the doors. Try Banjara."