Bill Maher announced Monday he is delaying the return of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” saying he made the decision because negotiations are back in play between the WGA and studios.
“My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike,” he posted to X. “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.”
Maher announced on Wednesday that he intended to restart production on his HBO talk show without involvement from his WGA writers, with the first new episode airing Sept. 22. That decision came amid a myriad of other talk shows saying that they intended to return (or in the case of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” had already begun filming), a snag in the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes that was met with incredible backlash.
After returning to filming on Monday, Barrymore, for instance, was booted from hosting the National Book Awards as the National Book Foundation stood in solidarity with writers, and after posting an apology video on Friday standing by her decision to return to production, the actress announced Sunday that she had changed her mind and will no longer be airing new episodes while the strikes continue.
Maher’s return to “Real Time” was met with particular scrutiny because not only is the eponymous news hour a WGA contracted series, but Maher himself is a WGA writer. While “Real Time” planned on returning to production sans writers, that did not account for the fact that its host was also a member of the union. Coinciding with that was Maher’s rather vocal opinions on the strike. He at one point told comedian Jim Gaffigan on his “Club Random” podcast that some of the WGA’s demands were “kooky” and expressed apparently limited sympathy for pay disparities within the industry.
“What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007 strike where they kind of believe that your owed a living as a writer, and you’re not,” he said. “This is show business, this is the make-or-miss league.”
In his announcement of a proposed return on Wednesday, Maher expressed, “I love my writers, I am one of them,” but added, “They are not the only people with issues, problems and concerns.” He said while he’d hoped the WGA strike would come to an end after Labor Day, “it has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work.”
The following day, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement that WGA leadership and the studios had agreed to resume negotiations this week, which appears to have informed Maher’s decision to delay his series’ return — “for now.”
“We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike,” the AMPTP said. “The WGA and AMPTP are in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room.”
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