The move comes amid the ongoing the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA strikes that have continued for months.
The WGA guild, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, has been on strike since 2 May, after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union representing the major TV and film studios, broke down.
“Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing,” Maher, 67, announced on social media on Wednesday (13 September).
“It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work. The writers have important issues that I sympathise with, and hope they are addressed to their satisfaction, but they are not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns.”
The WGA has called Maher’s decision “disappointing”.
“Bill Maher’s decision to go back on the air while his Guild is on strike is disappointing,” the WGA’s statement said.
“If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honour more than ‘the spirit of the strike.’
“Bill Maher is obligated as a WGA member to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services. It is difficult to imagine how Real Time with Bill Maher can go forward without a violation of WGA strike rules taking place. WGA will be picketing this show.”
Maher insisted the show sans writers will be absolutely different from before.
“I will honour 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,” he said.
“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 bull**** and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint,” he said.
Earlier this month, Maher criticised the screenwriters’ strike, calling the WGA’s demands “kooky”.
“They are asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky,” Maher said on the latest episode of his Club Random 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,” he added.
Maher’s decision to restart the production of Real Time also comes a few days after Drew Barrymore decided to work on the fourth season of her daytime talk show.
On Monday (11 September), at least 15 people protested outside Barrymore’s studios in New York City after the actor invited backlash for confirming that The Drew Barrymore Show will begin work on a new season in accordance with the rules of the Hollywood strikes.
While Barrymore and her production team aren’t breaking any strike rules, some people think the production of the daytime talk show is “still in dispute” and could be at least considered a “moral violation”.
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