N.J.’s Bill Maher says ‘Real Time’ will return without writers during WGA strike


Bill Maher just became the first late-night host to say his show would be returning during the writer's strike.

Maher, who grew up in River Vale, says his HBO series “Real Time with Bill Maher” will air without a writing staff because of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.

Maher, 67, had writers crying foul — and “scab!” — on social media Wednesday night, which is when the host (also a writer) tweeted his announcement.

“Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing,” he said on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter.

In a move opposed by the WGA, which pointed out that Maher is a WGA member, the host shared his view that the strike, which started in May, has been going on too long.

While the WGA plans to picket his show, he maintains that the return is justified in part because he wants to help non-writers show employees who are without work.

“It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,” Maher continued. “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,” he said. “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.”

Maher, a comedian who delivers written monologues as part of his show, has long hosted talk shows examining politics and politicians. This will be the 22nd season of “Real Time.”

Maher said the return would mean some changes, given the lack of WGA writers.

“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 said in the post. “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 bullsh-t and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint.”

The Writers Guild of America West posted a response to Maher hours after he made the announcement.

“Bill Maher’s decision to go back on the air while his Guild is on strike is disappointing,” the guild said. “If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike.’ 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.”

The comedian from Jersey had already made offending comments about striking writers.

“They kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not,” he said as part of a recent episode of his “Club Random” podcast.

Other late-night hosts, like Montclair’s Stephen Colbert (”The Late Show”), Jimmy Fallon (”The Tonight Show”) and Jimmy Kimmel (”Jimmy Kimmel Live”), have committed to respecting the strike by keeping their shows off the air. They started the “Strike Force Five” podcast with Seth Meyers (”Late Night”) and John Oliver (”Last Week Tonight”) to benefit their staff while they are out of work, and recently announced a live Las Vegas show that will benefit the same workers.

However, Maher’s “Real Time” is not the first talk show to return during the writer's strike, which preceded the Screen Actors Guild strike, also ongoing.

This week, Drew Barrymore, host of CBS’s “The Drew Barrymore Show,” announced her show would be returning without its staff of WGA writers.

Though Barrymore said on Instagram that she would not promote movies and TV shows from struck studios on her show, writers and actors criticized the move.

The WGA disagrees with Barrymore’s assertion that the show will be in compliance with strike rules, and staff writers at the struck show have been picketing outside the show at CBS in New York.

Audience members wearing WGA pins said they were asked to leave the talk show.

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