Bill Maher Faces WGA Backlash For Announcing Return Of "Real Time"
The WGA has criticized Bill Maher for the decision to resume production on his talk show Real Time without a writing staff. "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.' Bill Maher is obligated as a WGA member to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services," the WGA wrote in a statement. Real Time is aired on HBO and produced by Bill Maher Productions. Both are struck companies as they have not negotiated a waiver with the WGA. By doing this, Maher, as both a producer and a WGA member, becomes a scab. As a result, the WGA has confirmed they will be picketing his show.
Maher's reasoning for bringing back the show is to "help" the other people who have been affected by the WGA strike. "Writers are not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns. Despite some assistance from me, much of the staff is struggling mightily," Maher told TMZ. Furthermore, Maher said he would be showing solidarity. Reportedly, he will do away with any and all segments that required his writer's room. In doing so, he noted that the show "would not be as good as usual". However, the sincerity of his concern is questionable. His production company could have negotiated with the WGA and agreed to their demands.
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Maher Latest To Cross The Picket
However, Maher is just the latest figure to cross the picket line. Drew Barrymore has received a wave of backlash this week after she announced that her talk show would also be resuming production. Similarly to Maher, Barrymore attempted to justify her decision by stating that she would be abiding by the spirit of the strike.
"I own this choice. We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. We launched live in a global pandemic. Our show was built for sensitive times and has only functioned through what the real world is going through in real time. I want to be there to provide what writers do so well. That is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience. I hope for a resolve for everyone as soon as possible. We have navigated difficult times since we first came on air. And so I take a step forward to start season 4 once again with an astute humility," Barrymore said of her decision.
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