Guess which liberal Hollywood star, Iraq war critic quietly helps veterans get into show business?

Of all the people in the entertainment industry you’d suspect would create a program to help veterans, this guy might be last on your list.

According to the New York Times, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, has been running a program for the past three years that helps veterans break into the entertainment industry.

The program has been a secret — it’s a five-week boot camp style operation that teaches tricks of the trade in “areas including talent booking and editing,” according to The Times. But as his retirement approaches, Stewart is making it public in hopes that other shows will develop similar programs.

Jon Stewart Veterans
Jon Stewart with veterans at a “Daily Show” job fair in May. Photo via Todd Heisler/The New York Times.

“This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea,” Stewart told the Times. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”

Board member Karen Kraft, a former soldier, said there is a divide between the military and the left-wing Hollywood establishment that the program aims to bridge.

“Sometimes people want to apologize for being in the military out here [Hollywood]. It’s so misunderstood,” she told the Times. “It’s a creative industry, and they tend to see military people as a bunch of rule followers.”

The idea of Stewart running the program might seem strange to some because of his staunch opposition to the Iraq war and military intervention almost anywhere.

But at the same time, he has been a supporter of veterans, visiting them in hospitals, doing comedy shows at bases in Afghanistan and even visiting Arlington National Cemetery, according to the Times.

“I knew I had very strong opinions about what we were doing over there, and I wanted to visit the individuals who were part of the effort to gain a perspective on it,” he said.

Stewart said the program is a way for veterans to get into show business who otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance.

“There are well-worn channels into this industry that are closed off to veterans,” he told The Times. “You get into the television industry generally by going to certain colleges known for having good television programs, getting internships and getting to know people who work in the industry. A lot of veterans never had that opportunity because they were busy at war. This is a way to give them that chance.”


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