Bill Maher Explains Why ‘Real Time’ Will Return Without Writers

September 14, 2023 - Music

Bill Maher — a member of the Writers Guild of America — announced that his HBO talk show is returning despite the fact that the guild is still on strike.

Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing,” Maher, 67, began in a statement shared via X on Wednesday, September 13. “It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work.”

Maher claimed he sympathizes with some of the “important issues” the writers want addressed, though he didn’t specify which ones. “But they are not the only people with issues, problems and concerns,” he continued. “Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily. We all were hopeful this would come to an end after Labor Day, but that day has come and gone, and there still seems to be nothing happening. I love my writers, I am one of them, but I’m not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below-the-line people suffer so much.”

The late-night personality, who has hosted Real Time With Bill Maher since 2003, said he will “honor the spirit of the strike” by not including monologues or written segments like “New Rules.”

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“And I’ll say it upfront to the audience: the show I will be doing without my writers will not be as good as our normal show, full stop,” he wrote. “But the heart of the show is an off-the-cuff panel discussion that aims to cut through the bulls–t and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint.”

The WGA, meanwhile, slammed Maher’s decision to return without writers. “Bill Maher’s decision to go back on the air while his Guild is on strike is disappointing. If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,’” the union said in a statement shared via X on Wednesday. “As a WGA member, @BillMaher is obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services. It is difficult to imagine how @RealTimers can go forward without a violation of WGA strike rules taking place. WGA will be picketing this show.”

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The WGA has been on strike since May because of stalled negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over issues including streaming residual payments and the use of artificial intelligence in film and TV projects. Two months later, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists also went on strike for many of the same reasons.

Earlier this month, Maher spoke out about the WGA strike on his podcast, “Club Random.” During an interview with Jim Gaffigan, Maher used the word “kooky” to describe some of the writers’ demands and said no one is “owed a living” as a writer.

“This is show business,” he continued. “This is the make-or-miss league.”

Real Time will be the first late night show to return during the strikes. Last month, late night hosts Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers launched a podcast called “Strike Force Five” to benefit striking writers.

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