- Real Time with Bill Maher is returning without writers, sparking controversy and disappointment among the Writers Guild.
- Maher acknowledges the important issues raised by the writers but believes it’s time to bring people back to work, including struggling staff members.
- While Maher claims the show will honor the spirit of the strike, the Writers Guild plans to picket Real Time due to potential violations of strike rules.
Real Time with Bill Maher is planning to continue without writers, and the WGA will be picketing its return. Hosted by comedian and commentator Bill Maher, the late-night talk show premiered on HBO in 2003, featuring monologues from the host and a panel of expert guests discussing current events in politics and the media. Since the Writers Guild went on strike on May 2, every late-night show – including those of Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel – immediately went dark.
Now, over four months into the WGA strike, Real Time with Bill Maher is planning to resume without writers, Maher announced on Twitter:
As seen in the post above, Maher shared the following announcement regarding the return of Real Time:
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. 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. 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. I will honor the spirit of the strike by not doing a monologue, desk piece, New Rules or editorial, the written pieces that I am so proud of on Real Time. 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. But the heart of the show is an off-the-cuff panel discussion that aims to cut through the bullshit and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint.
On Instagram, the Writers Guild of America West responded to the return of Real Time and said they will be picketing the show:
As seen in the post above, the WGA shared the following statement:
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.” Bill Maher is obligated as a WGA member to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services. It is difficult to imagine how Real Time With Bill Maher can go forward without a violation of WGA strike rules taking place. WGA will be picketing this show.
Bill Maher’s Decision To Resume Real Time Will Be Controversial
Real Time with Bill Maher is the first late-night show to resume without writers, but not the only overall talk show to do so. The Drew Barrymore Show, which airs during the daytime, started the trend. The host recently announced the show would be returning to air in compliance with the WGA and SAG strike rules, though the decision faced backlash with Barrymore being called a “scab.” Maher’s decision to resume Real Time, which he says will “honor the spirit of the strike,” is sure to cause similar controversy, especially after the host recently made headlines criticizing the WGA strike and calling their demands “kooky.”
The WGA’s response raises some important points about Maher returning to the air amid the writers’ strike. As a WGA member himself, Maher is obligated to follow the rules of the strike and not perform any writing services for its duration. Maher says he will “honor the spirit of the strike” by not doing a monologue or New Rules segment, which are scripted. The show will seemingly only consist of the discussion panel segment with guests. Even so, it remains to be seen if Real Time with Bill Maher can resume without violating the rules of the WGA strike.