Television is a funny business. Even when it's not supposed to be.
Jon Stewart and Craig Kilborn are both funny guys. They're bright, hip and share a sharp sense of humor.They're also about to get each other's jobs, sort of.
At the moment, Kilborn remains the host of Comedy Central's flagship program, "The Daily Show." And he's great on the show, which is a very amusing parody of news programs.
And Kilborn has made his "five questions" segment a trademark along the lines of David Letterman's top-10 list.
But Kilborn recently announced that he is leaving "The Daily Show" to replace the retiring Tom Snyder as the host of the post-Letterman "Late Late Show" on CBS. Which didn't exactly thrill the folks at Comedy Central. As a matter of fact, they were pretty much in a snit about the whole situation.
"The timing is clearly bad," Comedy Central president and CEO Doug Herzog said recently. "We were a little blind-sided by the timing of his announcement."
And, despite Kilborn's request to be released from his Comedy Central contract (which doesn't expire until August 1999), his current bosses were not interested in accommodating him.
"To just yank him out at this point and have to compete against him doesn't make much sense to us," Herzog said. "And CBS's agenda is not really high on my list."
(CBS considered - but ultimately rejected - bringing Kilborn to its portion of the recently completed TV critics press tour and hanging a sign around his neck proclaiming, "Comedy Central won't let me answer any of your questions.")
But now it appears that Kilborn may be released as soon as January. That's when the newly hired Jon Stewart will take over as host of "The Daily Show."
Stewart has hosted his own talk shows on MTV and, in 1994, he took the show into syndication. It only lasted a matter of months but deserved more of a chance - it was considerably better than anything that has come along since.
What makes his hiring by Comedy Central rather bizarre is that Stewart was, for a time, under contract to Letterman's World Wide Pants production company - and was believed to be in line to succeed Snyder as host of "The Late Late Show." But by the time Snyder announced his desire to retire, Stewart's deal with Letterman's company had expired.
So, in essence, Stewart is getting Kilborn's job and Kilborn is getting the job once intended for Stewart.
VIDBITS: Alyssa Milano, who was Tony Danza's daughter on "Who's the Boss?" and was seen most recently as a vixen on "Melrose Place," is joining the cast of the new WB series "Charmed." She'll play one of three sister witches. (The other two are played by Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs.)
Milano replaces Lori Rom, who played the part in the pilot and was introduced to critics as one of the stars of the show less than three weeks ago.
- Here's something that would appear to be two-thirds good news: CBS is producing a movie titled "The Marriage Fool" about a recent widower who starts dating, much to the displeasure of his son.
The teleflick stars Walter Matthau, Carol Burnett . . . and John Stamos.
- ABC is not only turning "PrimeTime Live" into a second edition of "20/20" but is adding a third "20/20" on Sundays. Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson will continue to anchor on Wednesdays; Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs will continue to anchor on Wednesdays; Sawyer and Walters will anchor the new Sunday edition.
Hmmm. The latter might be worth tuning in to just to see if any slap fights erupt.