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Bill Maher’s “Real Time” HBO program plans to return without writers. The show has been off-air since May, the start of the ongoing WGA writers’ strike.
Maher says the show will return in a truncated format, eliminating its opening monologue and signature “New Rules” segment to show solidarity with his writing staff.
The program plans to focus and expand on its panel discussion, which does not require writers.
“Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing. It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,” Maher posted Wednesday on X.
“The writers have important issues that I sympathize with, and hope they are addressed to their satisfaction, but they are not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns. Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily.
“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,” he concluded.
While the show won’t be as good without editorial, Maher’s panels frequently include diverse opinions and authentic conversation that other political shows avoid.
HBO will happily take a lesser version of the show. There are viewers who subscribe to HBO only to watch Maher. And with no end in sight for the strike, the network risked finishing the year without its flagship news show.
Some Are Critical Of Maher’s Return
Of course, the decision to return has drawn the ire of critics who claim Maher’s decision is selfish and devalues his writing staff.
Former television host Keith Olbermann, who may have missed a day of meds, is one of them.
“As somebody who’s known you since 1978: F—k you , Bill, you selfish and unfunny scumbag,” Olbermann wrote on X.
The WGA also criticized the return, arguing on X that Maher is in violation of the union.
“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.” #WGAstrike 1/3
“As a WGA member, @BillMaher is obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services. 2/3
Apparently, Maher disagrees.
“Real Time” will be the first late-night program to return from hiatus. Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon have yet to announce their plans.
Not that anyone misses those four. Look at their ratings.
By comparison, people still watch and care about Maher. That is especially true during election periods.
Warner Bros. Discovery has not announced an official return date for “Real Time.”