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For 'The Daily Show,' this is great

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Our current economic debacle hasn't been bad news for everyone. "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart saw its highest ratings ever last week.

Tape of Jon Stewart: The big story continues to be economic meltdown. For anybody out there who has been living in a cave, let me just say this: Congratulations, you've apparently made the soundest real estate investment possible.

Thought we'd check in with our entertainment news guru, Mike Speier. Mike, "The Daily Show" is getting a ton of attention now, and it seems to be becoming pretty influential.

Mike Speier: It's changing the way a lot of things are. Kind of like the old "Saturday Night Live," when it was really game changing.

Vanek-Smith: Right, I mean it really seems like the play that that show gets surpasses shows with far higher ratings.

Speier: Not only that, but network news. Network news had its bad run, when everybody was complaining about the anchors or what they're showing or does anyone watch network news any more. But you know what, they are watching news and they're getting it from funny people.

Vanek-Smith: And, of course, "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" have really pulled out all the stops for the financial crisis and, of course, the presidential election.

Speier: We've seen that from "The Daily Show" for the past six years, that while they're intelligent about their criticism, they still have criticism.

Vanek-Smith: And they're not restricted by the facts.

Speier: Exactly.

Vanek-Smith: Which is always nice.

Speier: Or by advertisers, that really would take network TV to task a little bit more than they do with cable TV.

Vanek-Smith: Speaking of which, Wall Street had gotten really involved in Hollywood, hedge funds and everything else in financing Hollywood. And that has totally dried up. What has happened to Hollywood? How are they getting money now?

Speier: Hollywood just keeps rolling along, because in the end, the lure of Hollywood has always been there. And so just this past week, two huge deals went down. Dreamworks is getting basically bankrolled by an Indian company called Reliance for about $1.5 billion. The second deal, Universal, they've just re-upped their deal with a company called Relativity. So basically, they find ways to get money, because people want to make movies.

Vanek-Smith: Mike Speier is executive editor at Daily Variety. Mike, thanks for joining us.

Speier: My pleasure.

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