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Bill Maher Deserves Harsher WGA Pushback Than Drew Barrymore Got

Should we be expecting WGA to call out "Real Time" host & WGA member Bill Maher for bringing back his HBO series? Because it needs to...

After a week that saw her face backlash on a number of levels for her decision to resume her talk show amid the ongoing WGA strike, actress/talk show host Drew Barrymore announced that The Drew Barrymore Show would not return with new episodes until after the AMPTP gets its collective s**t together and works out a deal with the writers' union (with The Talk and The Jennifer Hudson Show following suit). So now that's out of the way, we're really, really hoping that the WGA on both coasts is ready to go after HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher host Bill Maher with twice the intensity that it went after Barrymore. Why? Because Maher is a WGA member who took to Twitter/X last week to announce that his show would be returning "sans writers or writing" despite the ongoing WGA & SAG-AFTRA strikes. Being a WGA member, what Maher is trying to convince everyone is that he won't be doing anything on the show that would fall under the category of "writing" – something that the union has gone on record in the past as saying isn't possible.

bill maher
Image: WGA, HBO Screencap

It's an issue that WGA West President Meredith Stiehm addressed last week on CNN's The Lead With Jake Tapper, noting a key, essential difference between Barrymore and Maher. "There is a distinction between Bill Maher and the others because he is a Writers Guild member. The others, I believe, are SAG members, and they may have waivers to do the shows. I'm not sure. But he's a Writers Guild member, and he's going back to work, so yes, a lot of people are saying that's scabbing. There's definitely some anger that he's doing that," Stiehm explained. And "Power" franchise creator Courtney Kemp is looking for folks to "Come out and really screw up Bill Maher's Day!" on Tuesday, September 19th (10 am – 12 pm). "The Power Universe is canceling Christmas at CBS Television City!" was the message from "Power" producer Safia Dirie that Kemp reposted (with original series cast member Dominic Colón offering to get something started in NYC). While both are excellent starts, there has to be a ton more heat put on Maher this week…

Over the next several days, anyone who has ever appeared on "Real Time" needs to be on social media and speaking to the press about how what Maher's doing hurts writers now and in the future. Even if Maher remains stubborn and looks to barrel through, there's no reason it should have to be comfortable for him from a press/public relations standpoint. I'm especially talking about the folks outside of the entertainment industry who claim to support the writers' strike – athletes, politicians, and others. They need to be getting the word out that Maher's move is like handing Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav & other AMPTP members a "Wonka Golden Ticket" to stretch out the strike even further. And Maher needs to be reminded that being a part of a union isn't just about what he can get out of it – that sometimes, some things are more important than him. No one's saying he's going to change his mind – but the beautiful thing about mindsets like that? Attack their egos long enough, and they're almost always able to be provoked into saying something painfully stupid that they can't walk back.

"Real Time" Readies HBO Return

"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. 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 bullshit and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint."

Bill Maher Talks WGA Strikes on "Club Random"

With actor/comedian Jim Gaffigan checking in for Maher's Club Random podcast, Maher has some choice cuts to lob into the conversation – coming from a perspective so front-of-Snowpiercer that you would swear he was playing a character. "They're asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky," Maher claimed – and at that moment? You know, when "kooky" came out of his mouth? I couldn't help but laugh because that was the response of someone who's been relying on his social circle for intel and not on what's actually been posted. But just in case any of you know Maher? Have him check out our previous post – and let him know that I would be more than happy to interview him about the list of "kooky" things he was able to pull together.

"What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from the 2007 strike where they kind of believe that you're owed a living as a writer, and you're not," was another adorable hairball that Maher coughed up – and hopefully a red flag for his writers. Because what this dude is saying is that if you're a writer in 2023 then you should still expect to have to work three jobs – even if you write for a mega-popular series that goes on to reap millions upon millions for the streamers. The same dude who claims he's being "canceled" all of the time even as he continues stockpiling new contracts, comedy specials, and live gigs. In large part because of the hard work that the writers on Real Time put in – the same hard work that Maher benefits from adopting even as he adopts a "Let them eat cake!" attitude towards the very same writers he claims to "feel for"… "love"… and is "one of."

In fact, a little life lesson – free of charge? Anytime anyone starts out something by telling you how much they feel for you, love you, and are one of you? It's usually they can't, they don't, and they aren't. It also – nearly 99.98476% of the time – will be followed by a "But…" that waste no time wiping away any fake "goodwill" that was attempted. "I feel for my writers. I love my writers. I'm one of my writers [Ed. Note: Uh-oh…]. But [Ed. Note: Didn't we just tell you…?] there's a big other side to it. And a lot of people are being hurt besides them — a lot of people who don't make as much money as them in this bipartisan world we have where you're just in one camp or the other, there's no in-between," Maher added. Holding the writers – and not the streaming services, studios & media companies who wasted millions upon millions over the past few years trying to be like Netflix and failing miserably – responsible for being out of work is everything you need to know about "McRebel" Bill Maher. Blames the oppressed – not the oppressor. I'm sure that position will serve him well during the next contract negotiation he has with HBO.

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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