Citing the need “to bring people back to work,” comedian Bill Maher announced Wednesday that his HBO political talk show “Real Time” will return to the air, but without writers amid the, now in its fifth month.
“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,” Maher said in a statement posted to social media, indicating that the economic wellbeing of his staff played a role in his decision.
“Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily,” Maher wrote.
The 67-year-old also noted that although the show would resume, it would be without several writer-driven segments, including his monologue and his end-of-show editorial piece, admitting that the new episodes “will not be as good as our normal show, full stop.”
“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 of his show, which is filmed at Television City studio lot in Los Angeles.
The WGA in a statement posted to social media Wednesday night called Maher’s decision “disappointing.”
“If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,'” the union said, also vowing that its members will be “picketing the show.”
“As a WGA member,” the union wrote, Maher “is obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services.”
Maher’s announcement comes just two days after Drew Barrymore also said that her daytime talk show would be returning with new episodes beginning Sept. 18.
“I own this choice,” she said in a statement Monday. “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind.”
Her decision sparked significant backlash in the entertainment community, however, and also prompted the WGA to say it would picket her show, which records at the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan.
“‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike,” A spokesperson for CBS Media Ventures, which distributes the show, said in a statement.
In early May, just days after the WGA strike began, Barrymore hadfor the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with WGA.
“I made a choice to walk away from the MTV, film and television awards because I was the host and it had a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with which was studios, streamers, film, and television,” Barrymore said in her statement this week. “It was also in the first week of the strike and so I did what I thought was the appropriate thing at the time to stand in solidarity with the writers.”
MTV and CBS Media Ventures are both part of Paramount Global, which also owns CBS News.
Hollywood writerssince early May, and they were joined on the picket lines by in mid-July after the two groups each failed to reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group which represents all major Hollywood studios. It marks the first time since 1960 that both the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild have been on strike simultaneously, effectively shutting down nearly all scripted production in Hollywood.
Paramount Pictures, one of the studios involved in the negotiations, is also part of Paramount Global. Some CBS News staff are SAG-AFTRA or Writers Guild members, but their contracts are not affected by the strikes.
— S. Dev and Gina Martinez contributed to this report.