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Bill Maher is planning to resume production of his HBO show, “Real Time,” without the assistance of writers. This decision sets him apart from other late-night hosts, as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA strikes continue to affect Hollywood.
Maher took to social media to announce this move, acknowledging the importance of the writers’ issues and expressing sympathy for their concerns. However, he emphasized that there are other individuals in the industry facing problems, and he believes it’s time to bring people back to work.
The decision to proceed without writers is likely to stir controversy, especially as other television productions face picket lines due to the strikes. Notably, Drew Barrymore has started production on her daytime talk show amidst protests by writers and others in New York.
Maher acknowledged that the version of “Real Time” without writers will differ significantly from its usual format. He pledged not to perform monologues, desk pieces, New Rules segments, or editorials, which are typically written, and he acknowledged that the show’s quality may not be up to its usual standards. However, he emphasized that the heart of the show, the off-the-cuff panel discussions aimed at cutting through partisanship and political rhetoric, will continue.
Despite his loyalty to his writers, Maher expressed his unwillingness to let an entire year go to waste and see many behind-the-scenes staff members suffer due to the strike.
The WGA strike has disrupted the late-night plans of various TV networks, affecting the launch of new shows and the selection of hosts to succeed departing comedians. This strike has a potential long-term impact on viewership habits, as prolonged disruptions may lead audiences to permanently change their late-night viewing preferences.
In response to the strike, some late-night hosts, including Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and John Oliver, have come together to produce a podcast, with hopes of donating its revenues to their crew members who are currently out of work.
“Real Time” had its production halted during its 21st season due to the strike. The show, which originally debuted in 2003, incorporates elements from Maher’s previous program, “Politically Incorrect,” which aired on both Comedy Central and ABC.