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The Jon Stewart Show: Jonny Come Lately

Behind the scenes of MTV’s not-so-late-night talk show

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The Scene: The kitschy set of The Jon Stewart Show, with its host, a 29-year- old comic from New Jersey, whom NBC passed over in favor of Conan O’Brien.

The Lineup: Tony Bennett and Cindy Crawford. “The reason Jon is hot right now,” says Crawford, “is he has a lot more freedom not being on a network. A guest like Howard Stern can come on and say penis on the air.”

Worst Rookie Gaffe: While interviewing John Mellencamp, “I said, ‘So this is your 12th album,’ and he went, ‘No, this is my 14th,’ and I said, ‘You know, what’s interesting about this album is its rhythm & blues feel,’ and he’s like, ‘No, actually it’s more of a thoughtful album.’ So I said, ‘Exactly!’ Sometimes you feel pretty stupid.”

The High Price of Fame: Recently mobbed by fans at a suburban Denny’s. “And Letterman keeps breaking into my house,” he insists.

Stewart’s Only Drawback: “They have to shave my neck before every show,” he says. “Is that something I shouldn’t have shared?”