“Real Time With Bill Maher” will be back on screens this month despite the Writers Guild of America strike.
Mr. Maher announced on X this week his intention to return the HBO show to production.
“It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,” he wrote. “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.”
He said that he decided to continue the show to help support the rest of his staffers, who have not been working on the show since the start of the strike.
“Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily,” Mr. Maher wrote. “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.”
The show will return Sept. 22 but will look very different. Usually featuring several written segments on top of a discussion panel, it will have only a panel of guests. Mr. Maher said the new structure is meant to “honor the spirit of the strike.” Gone are the opening written monologue and “New Rules.”
The WGA, predictably, blasted Mr. Maher for his decision to cross the picket line.
“If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,’” the union said on X. “As a WGA member, @BillMaher is obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services.”
The union added it plans to picket outside the show’s production offices in Los Angeles.
The decision to restart production on “Real Time” puts Mr. Maher in a small class of talk show hosts defying the WGA. Recently, actress and host Drew Barrymore drew the ire of the WGA for announcing her show, “The Drew Barrymore Show”, will continue production amid the strike.
Mr. Maher has been critical of the union and the strike before. On his podcast, he categorized the union’s demands as unreasonable and “kooky.”