Bill Maher will resume filming his HBO talk show Real Time With Bill Maher despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. The host confirmed the series is “is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing.”
“It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,” Maher wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “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.”
He continued that while he “loves writers,” he is “not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below-the-line people suffer so much.” Maher said he will honor the spirit of the WGA strikes by forgoing the usual monologue, as well as the “desk piece, New Rules or editorial, the written pieces that I am so proud of on Real Time.”
“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,” Maher wrote. “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.”
The WGA responded a few hours after Maher’s announcement calling his decision “disappointing.”
“If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,’” the WGA said in a statement on X. “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.”
Real Time With Bill Maher is set to return with a new episode on Sept. 22. This will make Maher the first late-night host with a show airing during the strike. Maher previously discussed his views on the writers strike on his podcast, Club Random.
“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,” Maher said on the podcast. “This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league.”
Maher’s announcement comes only days after Drew Barrymore said her talk show would resume filming this month. Barrymore revealed the news in an Instagram post, explaining that while she dropped out of the MTV Movie & TV Awards, this is a different situation.
“I am also making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it but this is bigger than just me. I own this choice,” she wrote, also noting of the actors strike, “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. We launched live in a global pandemic. Our show was built for sensitive times and has only functioned through what the real world is going through in real time.”
The WGA has responded swiftly to Barrymore’s decision. According to the WGA, the daytime talk show is “a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers,” making Barrymore’s decision to resume filming her show amid the writers’ strike “in violation of WGA strike rules.” Barrymore has been branded a “scab” by WGA members striking for fairer working conditions, and West Wing actor Bradley Whitford tweeted, “We’ll never forget it.”
Whitford had some choice words for Maher as well: “Perpetually aggrieved multi-millionaire narcissist frames scabbing as altruistic concern for the working man in order to satisfy insatiable need to express contempt for vulnerable transgender citizens and lob softballs to right wing wackos like Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro,” the actor wrote on social media.