Bill Maher is a rare liberal willing to take on a union on strike. Maher is bringing back his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and not waiting on the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike to end.
Maher made the announcement on Wednesday night to his more than 10 million followers on X, formerly known as Twitter. He said he sympathizes with the issues the striking writers face, but other staffers on his team are struggling, too. Everyone has bills to pay and life goes on. It’s time to get back to work. Maher said he has been helping the staff but it is not enough, they are still struggling.
It’s a long post for X but well done. Elon Musk replied in Elon Musk style.
Maybe worth posting some material on this platform. The reach is enormous.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 14, 2023
The WGA strike began on May 1. Six weeks of talks broke down with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Sony and Paramount—all under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Union members have been walking picket lines since that day.
There is no end in sight for the strike so Maher is bringing his show back without writers, though he is one of the show’s writers. He isn’t willing to let the show lose a whole year. He said he will “honor the spirit of the strike” by not using show elements dependent on writing, like his monologue, desk piece, and the “New Rules” segments. Hmm. Those are the best parts of his show, as a rule. Who cares about the progressive loons and token Republicans who do a panel discussion? That’s not entertaining. That’s cable news any night. He knows those others are the best parts of the show but he promises the fans not to disappoint them.
“But the heart of the show is an off-the-cuff panel discussion that aims to cut through the bulls–t and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint,” he insisted.
Criticism came quickly, most calling him a scab.
As somebody who’s known you since 1978: Fuck you, Bill, you selfish and unfunny scumbag
— Keith Olbermann⌚️ (@KeithOlbermann) September 14, 2023
Loser Olbermann calls Maher selfish when he’s trying to keep the show going and provide for the staff. Typical progressive logic.
The Writers Guild of America had something to say, too. They will be picketing his show.
“Bill Maher’s decision to go back on the air while his Guild is on strike is disappointing. If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,’” the group wrote on X. The WGA warned Maher he was “obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services” as a WGA member, and said they would be picketing his show in protest.
Maher is the first late-night host to resume programming during the writers strike. Hollywood has mostly been closed due to the strike.
Writers and the AMPTP locked horns over contractual terms, including pay. The studios’ refusal to rule out artificial intelligence one day replacing human staffers escalated the tension. There have also been issues with writers’ compensation not matching up with the billions of streams that shows and films now often draw.
Several weeks after picket lines assembled, the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced in July that its 160,000 members would go on strike. This has essentially shut down Hollywood, marking the first time in more than 60 years that both groups have staged a walkout.
As such, writers and actors are barred from promoting their projects. Most series that were filming or were due to film, including major nightly talk shows, have been off-air in that time, unless they were recorded before the work stoppage began.
“Real Time with Bill Maher” will be back with an original episode on September 22. Good for him in standing up and doing what is right for his show’s people.