Bill Maher announced Wednesday evening that his HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher” will be returning to the air, without “writers or writing,” joining several talk shows resuming production as Hollywood’s strikes continue with no end in sight.
Maher said he supported the striking writers but added that the stoppage had become too hard on nonstriking production staff who have been out of work since May. Maher’s move echoes the previous 2007-2008 writer’s strike, when he restored his show mid-stoppage without writers or writing, and will likely face picketing by the Writers Guild of America.
“Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing,” Maher wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “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.”
In a short comment in response to the news, a spokesperson for the Writers Guild of America East said “the Guild has and will continue to picket struck shows that are in production during the strike.”
The recent plans by talk shows to go back on air were led by CBS’ “The Drew Barrymore Show,” which drew heavy condemnation and picketing from striking writers. That show also committed to not trying to replace struck writing work.