Stephen King has slammed Bill Maher for re-starting his Real Time show without his writers amid the historic Hollywood strike.
As the industrial action by writers and actors rages into its fourth month, Maher controversially announced that his HBO talk show will launch some scaled-down episodes without any of its usual scripted segments.
The 67-year-old is the first late-night talk show host to return after the WGA strike started on May 2, with his show’s new season starting Friday, September 22 at 10pm – following a similar move by Drew Barrymore’s daytime show.
Maher made the announcement in a lengthy post on X, formerly Twitter, explaining that although he ‘loves’ his writers and sympathizes with their ‘important issues’, he is not prepared to lose any more programming time.
The post drew criticism from thousands of Twitter users, including many who slammed him as a ‘scab’ – while King accused him of being responsible for creating one of the first cracks in the strike wall.
Stephen King (right) has slammed Bill Maher (left) for re-starting his Real Time show without his writers amid the historic Hollywood strike.
Maher’s post drew criticism from thousands of Twitter users, including many who slammed him as a ‘scab’ while King declared him responsible for creating one of the first cracks in the strike wall
The 67-year-old is the first late-night talk show host to return after the WGA strike started on May 2. (Pictured: Writers Guild Association workers striking on the streets amid historic action)
Re-tweeting Maher’s post, the 75-year-old American fiction author said: ‘This is exactly how strikes are broken’.
Hundreds of thousands of workers represented by The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are involved in the first dual strike since 1960.
More than four months into the action, the unions are still at a stalemate with big studios who they are asking for better pay – meaning the majority of entertainment productions are still on hold and Hollywood has been ground to a halt.
While most shows continue to sustain their hiatus, Maher announced that Real Time is ‘coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing’.
‘It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,’ he said on Twitter.
‘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.
‘Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily. We all were hopeful this would come to an end after Labor Day, but that day has come and gone, and there still seems to be nothing happening.
‘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.’
Announced: Bill Maher announced on social media Wednesday that his HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher will return without its writing staff.
Coming back: ‘Real Time is coming back, unfortunately, sans writers or writing. It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work,’ Maher began
Drew Barrymore has also faced a fierce backlash for returning to her 9am show , including being dropped as host for the 74th National Book Awards
Maher said he would ‘honor the spirit of the strike’ by refraining from doing his usual monologue in the show, which will also air without the other written pieces he said he is ‘so proud of’.
He warned viewers the new episodes will ‘not be as good as our normal show’ but the ‘off-the-cuff panel discussion’ at the ‘heart of the show’ will still feature, promising it ‘will not disappoint’.
The majority of social media users who weighed in on his announcement shared King’s view on the move, slamming Maher as a ‘scab’ for betraying the striking workers.
A minority of fans thanked him for bringing the program back, describing his decision as a ‘fair compromise’.
While Maher seemed to support the writers in his lengthy statement, last week he called some of the writers’ demands, ‘kooky’ on 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,’ Maher said.
‘This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league,’ Maher continued, though he added, ‘I’m not saying they don’t have their points,’ agreeing with their stance on streaming platforms reporting viewership data.
Meanwhile, Drew Barrymore has faced a fierce backlash for returning to her 9am show, including being dropped as host for the 74th National Book Awards.
‘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 as he announced the return of his HBO show in scaled-down form
Barrymore’s decision to resume production on her show comes just four months after she pulled out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards, in solidarity with the striking writers
She announced her decision to bring back her daytime talk show despite previously walking away as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with the strike back in May.
In a lengthy Instagram post, she said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Barrymore, 48, went on to make the point that the third season of her namesake show had actually wrapped on April 20, which was prior to the strike, so they they never had to shut down production.
She said she made the decision to return to season four because the show is ‘bigger than just me.’
The Drew Barrymore Show security team were on high alert when it resumed taping this month, and they kicked out two audience members for wearing WGA pins in an illustration of the tensions which surround its return.
The first episode of resumed programming will air on September 18.
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