'The Talk,' 'Jennifer Hudson Show' and 'Real Time' are prepping to return for new seasons despite the ongoing SAG-AFTRA/WGA strikes.
Several talk shows are planning their returns despite the ongoing SAG-AFTRA/WGA strikes.
On Wednesday, Bill Maher announced that his HBO political talk show, Real Time With Bill Maher, will return to the air, but without writers amid the ongoing WGA strike, now in its fifth month. Citing the need "to bring people back to work" in a statement published to social media, Maher argued that the writers on strike are "not the only people with issues."
"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. 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 wrote. "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."
The 67-year-old also noted that although the show would resume, it would be without several writer-driven segments, including his monologue and his end-of-show editorial piece, admitting that the new episodes "will not be as good as our normal show, full stop."
"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," Maher concluded. "And I'll say it upfront to the audience: the show I will be doing without my writers will not be as good as our normal show, full stop. But the heart of the show is an off-the-cuff panel discussion that aims to cut through the bullsh*t and predictable partisanship, and that will continue. The show will not disappoint."
The WGA responded to Maher's decision in a statement posted to social media on Wednesday night, calling the news "disappointing."
"If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than 'the spirit of the strike,'" the union said, noting that as a WGA member himself, Maher is "obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services."
"It is difficult to imagine how @RealTimers can go forward without a violation of WGA strike rules taking place," the statement reads. "WGA will be picketing this show."
CBS' panel show, The Talk, and two syndicated talk shows, The Jennifer Hudson Show and Sherri, hosted by Sherri Shepherd, are reportedly returning to production for season premieres in the coming weeks.
Dozens of Writers Guild members protested a rehearsal show for The Talk on Wednesday morning.
"The reality is that bringing a show back without your writers is an attempt to devalue our labor and devalue the work that we do," WGA captain Chris Hazzard told The Hollywood Reporter. "And there's no way to make a show without writing. So whether that's picking guests or talking about who's going to speak when or doing pre-interviews to update your hosts about what the topic is going to be, all of that is writing. And so that work being done is scabbing and we will be out here with a picket sign until it stops."
David Slack, a former WGA West board member, told THR that the return of these talk shows without union writers is "incredibly disappointing."
"It doesn't necessarily hurt our effort for what we're doing, but all the strength that unions have, everything that unions have achieved -- minimum wage, overtime pay, weekends -- that's all come from solidarity," he added. "And not just solidarity within the union, but solidarity across our society. So when people don't show solidarity with unions, they are doing damage not just to their own reputations, but also to workers everywhere."
According to Variety, The Jennifer Hudson Show will resume production this week to premiere on Sept. 18, which was its previously scheduled season 2 premiere date. The talk show is also covered by the WGA and will begin its season without writers. Variety reports that production intends to resume working with WGA writers once a new contract is in place.
While The Talk is reportedly prepping to premiere on Sept. 18 after halting production in May, shortly after the strike began, it is still unknown if co-hosts Jerry O’Connell, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Amanda Kloots, Natalie Morales and Sheryl Underwood will return.
Variety also reports that production on The Kelly Clarkson Show is busy building its new set in New York after moving cross-country from the Universal lot to 30 Rock for its upcoming fifth season. The outlet reports that no writers are working and filming has not begun for the new season, which currently has no premiere date.
Talk shows like Sherri and those that have already returned this season, such as Live! With Kelly and Mark and Tamron Hall, are permitted to continue with production because they either do not have writers or employ writers under a separate contract that's not affected by the strike.
Controversially, The View never halted production during the strikes and returned for its 27th season earlier this month. The ABC-produced panel show has two WGA writers who have stepped away and have not been working since the strike began. Co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sara Haines, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro have discussed the strikes on-air numerous times.
Jeopardy! decided to move forward with their upcoming 40th season with several changes. During an episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast last month, showrunner Michael Davies shared that the show's fall season will re-use questions and bring back past runners-up to compete again.
"I believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek Stage with non-original material," Davies explained. "We’re going to open the season with a second chance tournament for players from season 37 who lost their initial game. Winners from that will advance to a season 37 and season 38 Champions Wildcard."
The season 40 questions, he added, will be "a combination of material that our WGA writers wrote before the strike, which is still in the database, and material that has been re-deployed from multiple seasons of the show."
Additionally, Davies shared that writing for season 2 of Celebrity Jeopardy!, set to premiere later this year, was completed prior to the strike and the show will feature completely original questions.
For more on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA/WGA strikes, see ET's coverage below.