It looks like Bill Maher is holding back on the controversial decision to resume production of his HBO talk show, “Real Time With Bill Maher,” amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture of Television Producers (AMPTP). Bill Maher announced the news on Monday (Sept. 18) morning via his X (formerly Twitter) account.
My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike. Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table I’m going to delay the return of Real Time, for now, and hope they can finally get this…
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) September 18, 2023
Bill Maher Explains Decision To Delay Return Of ‘Real Time’
Maher cited the WGA and AMPTP returning to the negotiating table this week as the reason for making his decision to delay the return. The statement reads, “My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike.” Maher continued, “Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table I’m going to delay the return of ‘Real Time,’ for now, and hope they can finally get this done.”
Whether or not the WGA and AMPTP “finally get this done” remains to be seen. The WGA has been in an ongoing labor dispute against the AMPTP since early May. The strike is currently in its fifth month.
As previously reported by The Blast, Maher announced plans to resume production of “Real Time,” sans writers, in the interest of his below-the-line workers and staff, saying, “It is time to bring people back to work.” Maher claimed that the show would “honor the spirit of the strike” by not including a monologue, desk piece, New Rules, editorial, or written pieces typically included on the show and would maintain its panel presentation.
However, Maher’s decision came under heavy criticism, since “Real Time” is a WGA signatory series, and Maher is also a member of the WGA. The WGA West issued its own statement on Maher’s decision, writing, “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.”
Maher’s decision follows suit with multiple WGA signatory talk shows that were also set to resume production and broadcasting soon, including “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” and “The Talk.” All three shows have opted to postpone their returns after receiving heavy backlash.
Many users across social media agree that Maher’s opting to delay the return of the show was the right decision. Vaughn Joy wrote, “Damn even Bill Maher backed down. This labor movement is powerful as hell. Love to see famous, wealthy people backing workers on their massive platforms, even when it’s down to the wire backtracks like we’ve seen the last few days.”
Meanwhile, “Scandal” and “Inventing Anna” writer Juan Carlos Fernandez chimed in, “I applaud his decision, though I dispute the premise that ‘nothing was happening.’ Denying your labor is not nothing. Picketing is not nothing. Making a stand is not nothing.”
Writer Addison Blu believes today’s move is a sign of something big now that Maher has followed suit to delay the return of his show, stating, “Holy sh*t. When even Bill Maher is compelled, we’re witnessing something huge. Hold the line!” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” showrunner Warren Leight also said Maher made the correct decision, posting, “Breaking: Even Bill Maher has decided to do the right thing.”
The WGA informed its members that the guild will be returning to the negotiating table with the AMPTP, representing the studios, on Wednesday (Sept. 20). The actors union, SAG-AFTRA, declared its own strike against the AMPTP on July 14. The guild has been on strike for over two months.
If the WGA manages to reach a new deal with the AMPTP, and that’s a big “if,” it would likely allow the return of many late-night and daytime talk shows. For talk show hosts who are also members of SAG-AFTRA, it would be permissible and not against strike rules for them to resume talk show duties during the strike, since talk shows fall under a separate contract that is not currently struck.
The previously announced expected return date of “Real Time with Bill Maher” was Friday, September 22 on HBO. However, it looks like that date is no longer happening.