Bill Maher reverses course 'for now' and calls off his show's restart as WGA talks resume

FILE - Bill Maher arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 27, 2022. Mahr has delayed returning to his HBO talk show during the ongoing strike by writers and actors, a decision following similar pauses in the past few days by "The Drew Barrymore Show," "The Talk" and "The Jennifer Hudson Show." (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Bill Maher has walked back his decision to restart his talk show during the writers' strike. (Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Less than a week after announcing that "Real Time With Bill Maher" would return amid the ongoing writers' strike, Bill Maher said Monday that he is postponing the talk show's restart.

The comedian explained his change of heart in an X post, citing the renewed talks between the writers union and the studios as a motivating factor.

"My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike," he wrote. "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."

Read more: Bill Maher is bringing 'Real Time' back to HBO — without striking writers

On Monday, the Writers Guild of America said it will meet with the alliance representing major studios starting on Wednesday, as the two sides try to negotiate a new contract.

“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,” the WGA’s negotiating committee wrote to members on Monday morning.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios including Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix and the Walt Disney Co., confirmed the meeting date.

Read more: WGA contract talks to resume Wednesday as strike drags on

“Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to work together with the WGA to end the strike,” the studio group said in a statement last week as it signaled it was working with the guild to return to the negotiating table.

Maher's decision comes after Drew Barrymore announced Sunday that she was reversing course on her controversial decision to start up production on her talk show.

"I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over," Barrymore wrote on Instagram. "I have no words to express my deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt and, of course, to our incredible team who works on the show and has made it what it is today. We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon."

Read more: Commentary: Drew Barrymore spent years building her brand. Without writers, it unraveled in a week

CBS also postponed the start of Season 14 of the daytime show “The Talk” on Sunday after Barrymore's decision.

That chat series is “pausing its season premiere,” originally scheduled for Sept. 18, a spokesperson for the network confirmed Sunday in a statement provided to The Times. The statement did not mention the strikes.

“We will continue to evaluate plans for a new launch date,” the spokesperson said.

Read more: 'The Talk' postpones Season 14 after Drew Barrymore halted her talk show

Maher announced Wednesday that his HBO show would be returning to the air without “writers or writing.” He said he supported the striking writers but that the stoppage had become too hard on nonstriking production staff who have been out of work since May. Maher’s move echoes what happened during the 2007-08 writers’ strike, when he restored his show midway through the work stoppage (along with hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien) without writers or writing.

A spokesperson for the WGA called Maher’s decision from last week “disappointing.”

“If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike,’” the spokesperson said. “Bill Maher is obligated as a WGA member to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services. It is difficult to imagine how ‘Real Time’ can go forward without a violation of WGA strike rules taking place. WGA will be picketing this show.”

Times staff writers Wendy Lee, Matt Pearce and Christi Carras contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.