HBO is holding tightly onto Bill Maher. The premium cabler has just officially ordered another two seasons of his popular late-night talk show, which will guarantee that Real Time with Bill Maher stays on the air through at least 2024. Because the show premiered on HBO in February 2003, the renewal also means Real Time will enter into its third decade on the network as part of the deal. It follows a previous renewal from HBO through 2022.
"After 19 seasons, Real Time with Bill Maher remains a Friday night destination for fresh perspectives and smart conversation about today's most relevant issues," said HBO programming executive VP Nina Rosenstein in a statement. "His weekly editorials are insightful, must-see viewing in his signature voice, and we're proud to continue our relationship with Bill and the incredible team at Real Time."
Maher added, "I'm thrilled to be signing such a fabulous deal with the bestest network. What can I say - beginner's luck!"
Maher was the first late night host to bring back live audiences to the studio during the pandemic, starting in September 2020. In May, Maher tested positive for COVID-19, and had to cancel Real Time tapings as a result. The show resumed production soon after once Maher was negative and there haven't been any other major incidents related to the virus.
"Thanks to all wishing me get well - hard to do since I feel perfectly fine, but I appreciate it! Most upset about ending my streak going back to 1993 of never missing a Politically Incorrect or Real Time episode. Oh well, even Cal Ripken had to sit one out at some point," Maher said at the time. He later said that being vaccinated "probably" helped him avoid the major symptoms.
"I can't oblige you - I never was sick. I felt nothing," Maher said when he returned to the show after his absence. "I'm sorry I missed the last two weeks. I didn't want to - you heard this, they said I had COVID. This is, you know, it's like when you go to the Jiffy Lube and they show you the air filter, and you go, 'OK, you're the expert.'"
He added, "Did it help? Probably? I don't know. We don't know. Yes, probably. I don't know. You know, most people who got the thing never got very sick. Less than 4 percent went to the hospital - I know media doesn't like to talk about that! It's something to be respected? Obviously, yes. And so, good. The point is, I had it!"
Real Time With Bill Maher shares some similarities to other late-night talk shows, including Maher delivering an opening monologue when the show starts, but it has more of an edge with its home at HBO. Maher also brings in various special guests to discuss hot button issues, often from both sides of the political aisle to generate discussion. Various actors and similar celebrities have appeared, though Maher tends to focus on bringing in journalists, politicians, professors, and other guests particularly well versed in that episode's subject matter.
Of course, Maher is no stranger to controversy. He has faced backlash many times over the years for various reasons. This includes taking shots at adult comic book movie fans following the death of Stan Lee, arguing that they are "stuck in an everlasting childhood." More recently, he lambasted "cancel culture" for going after Matt Damon, someone Maher says is one of the most likable guys in Hollywood.
Paul Casey directs Real Time With Bill Maher. Maher serves as executive producer alongside Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen, and Billy Martin. Chris Kelly is co-exec producer and Matt Wood serves as producer. Meanwhile, not every show on HBO has been so lucky as to get renewed, as even the acclaimed series Lovecraft Country was recently canceled after one season, despite its many Emmy noms. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.