Trevor Noah surprised Paramount Global C.E.O. Bob Bakish, Noah’s key producers, his staff, and even some of his own representatives by announcing his exit from The Daily Show at the end of Thursday’s taping. What’s more surprising, I learned this weekend, is that Noah actually had lunch with Chris McCarthy, president and C.E.O. of MTV Entertainment Group—who, with oversight of Comedy Central, is Noah’s boss—the day before the announcement, and Noah didn’t even suggest he might be quitting.
That’s one way to avoid leaks, I guess, though it certainly left Paramount executives scrambling to articulate what happened to their network’s marquee late-night star, on its flagship franchise that, while declining in linear ratings, still generates millions in high-C.P.M. ad revenue, does well on Paramount+, and is huge on social. It’s a big loss.
As I mentioned Thursday, money is always a factor in these situations, and Noah makes millions as a top-grossing touring comic, with lucrative specials like the one he filmed Friday in Toronto for Netflix. But it’s not like there was bad blood at Comedy Central. McCarthy and Noah have had a good relationship and a pretty open dialogue, according to two sources close to the show. (Comedy Central and Noah’s reps declined to comment.)