Well, Real Time won’t be crossing the picket line after all. Bill Maher has apparently jumped on the bandwagon with the other talk shows that have walked back their premiere dates amid the writers strike. Despite being overtly dismissive of some of the Writers Guild of America’s aims, Maher has graciously decided to let them work things out, thus narrowly avoiding being labeled a “scab.”
“My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike,” Maher wrote on Twitter/X of the decision. “Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table I’m going to delay the return of Real Time, for now, and hope they can finally get this done.”
Maher’s statement came as the Writers Guild of America leadership confirmed that the guild would return to the negotiating table with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers). “The WGA and AMPTP now have a confirmed schedule to bargain this week, starting on Wednesday,” the union said in the message to guild members on Monday (via Variety). “You might not hear from us in the coming days while we are negotiating, but know that our focus is getting a fair deal for writers as soon as possible. We’ll reach out again when there is something of significance to report.”
The WGA is fighting for several improvements to their contract, though in Maher’s opinion, they’re “asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky.” On his podcast, Maher said (among other things), “I feel for my writers. I love my writers. I’m one of my writers. But there’s a big other side to it,” Maher also said. “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.”
Wanting to “bring people back to work” was the comic’s stated reason for moving forward with Real Time without his WGA employees. “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,” he wrote in a previous statement. “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.”
Hopefully, this round of negotiations will prove fruitful for the WGA so that everyone can get back to work, and so that Bill Maher can go back to expressing his contrarian opinions about other subjects.