Bill Maher Won't Return Amid Strike After All

HBO host cites possible progress in talks, will wait to see what happens
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2023 11:25 AM CDT
Updated Sep 18, 2023 12:13 PM CDT
Bill Maher's Show Is Returning Without Writers
Bill Maher in a 2017 photo.   (Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP)
UPDATE Sep 18, 2023 12:13 PM CDT

Bill Maher is following the lead of Drew Barrymore—he has scrapped plans to resume his HBO talk show amid the Hollywood writers' strike, per the Hollywood Reporter. Maher cited apparent progress in negotiations. "My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike," Maher wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table I'm going to delay the return of Real Time, for now, and hope they can finally get this done." The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers haven't settled on a date for new talks, but they could happen this week, according to THR.

Sep 14, 2023 11:25 AM CDT

Bill Maher will become the first nighttime host to return to the air amid the Hollywood writers strike. The host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher made the announcement on X, formerly Twitter, reports NPR. "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," Maher wrote. He added that he is "not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below-the-line people suffer so much." The strike began in May, and there's no end in sight.

Maher is quickly getting hit with criticism, as Drew Barrymore did when she decided to return to the air during the day. The Writers Guild of America called his decision "disappointing" and said it would be picketing the show, per Deadline. Far more blunt was Keith Olbermann, notes Variety. "Without writers, the new weekly SCAB edition of 'Real Time With [Bill Maher]' will be 83 seconds long," Olbermann wrote. "As somebody who's known you since 1978: F--- you, Bill, you selfish and unfunny scumbag."

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Maher says the show will return without a monologue or other written segments, and with only a panel discussion. And while he voiced sympathy for the writers on strike, the AV Club notes that Maher recently criticized some of the writers' demands as "kooky" on his Club Random podcast. "What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007's strike, where they kind of believe that you're owed a living as a writer, and you're not," he said. "This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league." (More Bill Maher stories.)

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