Undeterred by the Hollywood writers strike, comedian Bill Maher announced Wednesday that his HBO show “Real Time” will return without its writers.
Maher’s announcement comes days after he called the strike demands “kooky.” His decision follows a similar one from actor and television host Drew Barrymore, who on Monday announced that her talk show would also return without its Writers Guild of America writers. Since Barrymore’s announcement, she’s faced backlash and has been dropped as the host of the National Book Awards Ceremony.
“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,” Maher said Wednesday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The WGA strike started in May and was swiftly joined by striking actors in the union known as SAG-AFTRA, which began their strike in July. Writers have asked the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, which is made up of studios and executives, to provide them with better pay and residuals, bigger writers rooms and protections against artificial intelligence.
“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,” Maher continued on X. “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. “
Maher says that he will “honor the spirit of the strike” by not showing any written pieces.
“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,” he added.
Earlier this month, Maher criticized the WGA strike on his “Club Random” podcast.
“They’re asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky,” Maher told stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan on the podcast. “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. This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league.”