Sorry guys, newsletter went to print super late today; had some emergency medical issues today. Don’t worry about it, I’m fine, but the regularly scheduled programming of why the striking writers’ unemployment benefits should be a goal for creators and what that might look like will have to wait till next week. As will our hot goss on the Kast kontroversy.
Luckily for you, last Thursday’s takedown of Bill Maher and his #BrainTakes on why his writers didn’t deserve a living wage has proven eerily prescient: During Maher’s appearance on last week’s episode of “The Beat,” while host Ari Melber patiently explained why his MSNBC show was still on-air while ‘Real Time’ was in forced hiatus, you could almost see a tiny, blunt-faded mouse doing the world’s slowest rotations on the hamster wheel of Maher’s two remaining brain cells (sorry, metaphors…not so good right now) as the Darth Stewie superfan calculated whether he could, in fact, get away with a similar programmatic loophole. Known as the Network Television Code, it allows striking SAG members to continue working on non-narrative programming such as the news, sports, and variety shows. However no such exemption exists for the Writers Guild members who staff these shows and are also currently striking.
It must have seemed like kismet when, Sunday night, Drew Barrymore announced the return of her CBS daytime talk show, sans writers. And thus, the stupified nacho-dusted rodent heaved itself down on a final wheel spin. Then it took a four-day nap, because have you ever tried to exercise while stoned? It’s exhausting.
By Wednesday, refreshed and fired up, Maher took to X (obviously) to announce in a verified mega-post (obviously) that he’d be bringing back “Real Time” to Max. As he defensively explained in approximately 40,000 words, his writers “were not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns…I’m not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below-the-line people suffer so much.” Which is wild, considering in that same post, he also claimed to BE one of the show’s writers? The powers of cognitive dissonance and sativa’s effects on rodent dopamine receptors, people. Look it up.
Let’s be clear: Every other late-night show host — whether out of solidarity with their staff or fear of going on live TV without pre-written material or celebrity guests to interview — closed up shop when the WGA’s contract expired. Five of them — including TV’s worst Jimmy — are actually making podcast content to support their out-of-work staffers. Because they are millionaires, you see. They can afford to. You know who else could afford to support his under-the-line employees without throwing his striking writers’ room — himself ostensibly included — under the bus?
Bill “they kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not” Maher. (By the way, for a guy who apparently hates pronouns, boy does that sentence speak volumes: He might write for his show, but he is not they. They, however, are you.)
I guess in that respect, we do agree on one thing: Bill Maher is not owed anything — not a living, not a weekly Max show, not guest spots on almost-primetime cable news, and certainly not a writing staff, who hopefully will continue pulling unemployment after the strike ends instead of going back to work for this scabbing schmuck.
Anyway. Here are some funny Xs about Maher’s hilarious decision to boot himself out of the WGA. We’ll be back again next week, hopefully talking about someone other than a 67-year-old in a Darth Stewie t-shirt.
– Drew Grant, Managing Editor