The big news of the morning is Trevor Noah’s surprise selection to take over the anchor’s chair at “The Daily Show” soon to be vacated by Jon Stewart. So I’m curious to know how all of you feel about the selection — and what changes you’d like to see Noah make as he reshapes the show in his image.
• “Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on ‘The Daily Show,’ ” by David Itzkoff and “Here are the 3 times Trevor Noah, the guy replacing Jon Stewart, appeared on ‘The Daily Show,’ ” by Caroline Moss: For context, here’s Itzkoff’s piece on the selection process that won Noah the job, and clips of Noah appearing on the show in the past.
“The appointment of Mr. Noah, a newcomer to American television, promises to add youthful vitality and international perspective to ‘The Daily Show.’ It puts a nonwhite performer at the head of this flagship Comedy Central franchise, and one who comes with Mr. Stewart’s endorsement,” Itzkoff writes. “‘I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Mr. Stewart said in a statement. ‘He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.’ Mr. Stewart added that he ‘may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!’ But the decision also invites questions about Mr. Noah’s experience and visibility (or lack thereof), and why the network did not choose a woman to crack the all-male club of late-night television hosts. Michele Ganeless, the Comedy Central president, said in an interview: ‘We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.'”
• “That Time the Avengers Battled Scientology,” by Abraham Riesman: This deep dive into a long-running Marvel comics series is a fascinating look at both how a serial story develops — and what Scientology will and won’t sue over.
“The turn of the millennium was a weird period for superhero comics; an era when financial desperation opened a path for wild experimentation. Marvel Comics was particularly hard hit, plunging into bankruptcy and emerging as a wounded giant,” Riesman explains. “The company welcomed bold, weird ideas: Punisher became a zombie, Spider-Man and the X-Men got rebooted series where they were all angsty teens again, and … a Scientologist joined the Avengers. And then the Avengers teamed up with the evil super-powered leader of Scientology. And they all flew in a spaceship powered by the souls of Scientologists. And they fought a giant alien pyramid. Okay, let’s take a step back. Technically, the religion in question wasn’t the Church of Scientology; it was an extremely thinly veiled stand-in for it called the Triune Understanding. The story line about it was the brainchild of Avengers writer Kurt Busiek (who fully admits to the Triune Understanding’s status as a Scientology pastiche), that story line ran for an astounding four years, and — perhaps most remarkable of all — this bizarre narrative thread was oddly tender and empathic toward Scientologists.”
• “Secrecy on the Set: Hollywood Embraces Digital Security,” by Nicole Perlroth: After the Sony hack, the people responsible for information security on movie projects have new power.
“Not all that long ago, keeping tabs on Hollywood secrets was pretty simple,” Perlroth explains. “Executives like Ms. [Lulu] Zezza could confiscate a crew member’s company-issued computer or cellphone once shooting ended. But personal smartphones that receive company emails, and apps that store data on cloud computers? That is not so easy to manage if your co-workers aren’t willing to play along. And people like Ms. Zezza, who were once considered paranoid because they worried about mundane security measures like passwords and encryption, suddenly looked prescient.”
• “Drawing cartoons, defying the government,” by Karen Attiah and Ann Telnaes: My colleagues in the Opinions section look at the repression cartoonists face around the world.
“While much of the world focuses on the violence and threats that Western political cartoonists have faced for depicting the prophet Muhammad, many cartoonists are silenced around the world thanks to good old-fashioned government censorship and political oppression,” Attiah and Telnaes write. “In Latin America, cartooning against the government in certain countries can carry heavy consequences. According to Freedom House, Ecuador was listed as ‘not free’ in its 2014 Freedom of the Press rankings. President Rafael Correa’s administration has created a hostile environment for the press, using multimillion-dollar libel lawsuits and draconian communications laws to repress the media. Speaking to [Xavier] Bonilla, though, who has a sociable, easygoing manner and laughs off Correa’s tactics with ease, one would never guess that he himself is one of the government’s targets for his cartoons.”