Real Time with Bill Maher
Real Time with Bill Maher is a talk show
Talk show
A talk show or chat show is a television program or radio program where one person discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host....

 that airs weekly on HBO
Home Box Office
HBO, short for Home Box Office, is an American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner. , HBO's programming reaches 28.2 million subscribers in the United States, making it the second largest premium network in America . In addition to its U.S...

, hosted by comedian
Stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy is a comedic art form. Usually, a comedian performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them. Their performances are sometimes filmed for later release via DVD, the internet, and television...

 and political satirist
Political satire
Political satire is a significant part of satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly...

 Bill Maher
Bill Maher
William "Bill" Maher, Jr. is an American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, author and actor. Before his current role as the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher hosted a similar late-night talk show called Politically Incorrect originally on Comedy Central and...

. Much like his previous show, Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect is a late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002. It premiered on Comedy Central from 1993 to 1997, and later on ABC in 1997, which cancelled it in 2002....

on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 (and before that, on Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

), Real Time features a panel of guests that discuss current events in politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and the media. Unlike the previous show, however, guests are usually more well-versed in the subject matter: more experts such as journalists, professors and politicians participate in the panel, and there are fewer actors and celebrities included in it. Additionally, many guests appear via satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

. Also, Politically Incorrect was produced four days a week and was pre-recorded, while Real Time only produces one episode a week which is broadcast live.

It is an hour-long program with a studio audience, airing live on Friday nights at 10:00 PM (ET). It originates from Studio 33 ("The Bob Barker
Bob Barker
Robert William "Bob" Barker is a former American television game show host. He is best known for hosting CBS's The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American television history, and for hosting Truth or Consequences from 1956 to 1975.Born...

 Studio") at CBS Television City
CBS Television City
CBS Television City is a television studio complex located in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles at 7800 Beverly Boulevard, at the corner of North Fairfax Avenue...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. Prior to 2009, approximately 12 new weekly episodes aired in the spring (February to early May), followed by another such set of new episodes in the fall (late August to November). In 2009, the show began airing as one continuous season. Because of the live, current-events nature of the show, HBO does not re-air old episodes between breaks, though occasionally a repeat will be shown when the program takes a week off during the season.

Show format

The format of the show usually features an opening current events or political skit
Sketch comedy
A sketch comedy consists of a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called "sketches," commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio and/or visual medium such as broadcasting...

, followed by the credits and a comedy monologue. Maher then interviews an important figure via satellite or in-studio before sitting down with three panel guests for an extensive debate. Halfway through the panel session, Maher will do a comedy skit that usually satirizes current news items - one example includes possible titles of Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

's autobiography as written by different ghostwriters. Following the comedy bit, Maher will interview another figure via satellite or in-studio. Recently Maher has focused more on having this interview done on-stage in order to cut down the number of satellite interviews. Near the end of every episode, Maher has a segment called New Rules which serves as a humorous editorial on popular culture and American politics. The final "New Rule" segues into Maher's closing editorial monologue.

Since the show airs on HBO, the participants do not have to restrict their language to conform to the broadcast standards that they did on Politically Incorrect.

In the first season, Paul F. Tompkins
Paul F. Tompkins
Paul Francis Tompkins , best known as Paul F. Tompkins, is an American actor and comedian.-Life and career:Tompkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a receptionist mother and railway worker father. He started out in stand-up comedy in 1986 at The Comedy Works, Philadelphia, PA, where he...

 was featured as a correspondent. Also, every episode would end with a performance by a stand-up comedian, none of which were political satirists
Political satire
Political satire is a significant part of satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly...

. The segments featuring Tompkins and comedians were dropped after the tenth episode. Viewers were also able to call into the live show in the first season and ask questions over the air, but this was also dropped.

Starting with episode 67 in February 2006, audio-only episodes have been made available as a free podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

 via the iTunes Store
ITunes Store
The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple. Opening as the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, with over 200,000 items to purchase, it is, as of April 2008, the number-one music vendor in the United States...

 and as a raw RSS
-Mathematics:* Root-sum-square, the square root of the sum of the squares of the elements of a data set* Residual sum of squares in statistics-Technology:* RSS , "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary", a family of web feed formats...

 feed. The podcasts also feature material cut from the show but taped during the studio rehearsal, including New Rules not aired in the final version. For two weeks in February 2008, the podcasts were presented in video format. However, this video format was dropped for some unknown reason on the next episode, released in podcast form on March 4, 2008.

During the fall of 2006, Maher began hosting a live chat (now called "Overtime") on HBO's website following each broadcast, usually including some of the show guests as well. Viewers are invited to submit questions prior to and during the original telecast, for Maher and the guests to answer and discuss afterwards.

The opening sequence begins with a spoken phrase from the (now defunct) Los Angeles speaking clock, featuring an (uncredited) Joanne Daniels
Joanne Daniels
Joanne Daniels is an American voice actress. Most associated with the Weatherchron company of Atlanta, Georgia , she is best known as an announcer of telephone company time and temperature announcements, including Los Angeles, California.She also provided the voice for a significant number of...

 as the time lady
Speaking clock
A speaking clock service is a recorded or simulated human voice service, usually accessed by telephone, that gives the correct time. The first telephone speaking clock service was introduced in France, in association with the Paris Observatory on 14 February 1933.The format of the service is...

 saying "Good Afternoon." The theme song is composed by Christopher "Kid" Reid and his voice is heard saying "Start the clock," "Real Time" and "Bill Maher". A montage of historical events from the beginning of time to election night on November 4, 2008 accompanies the music along with a crawl at the bottom listing the guests for that night's show.

Changes in 2008

The show returned on January 11, 2008 and began broadcasting in high-definition format
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

. A slightly updated set was also introduced as well.

As a result of the writers' strike
2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike
The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, more commonly referred to as simply the Writers' Strike, was a strike by the Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West ....

, the opening skit, the "New Rules" segment, and the closing monologue were eliminated for five episodes at the beginning of the year. The ice breaker used in the middle of the show (normally some sort of fake products dealing with a current event) was also eliminated due to the strike. The announcement about Real Time returning without writers claimed that the opening monologue would also be cut, but every episode ended up including a full monologue.

During the strike, the "Overtime" concept became part of the live show itself, through a new segment called "Blogga, Please!." Using HBO's website, viewers were able to leave comments or questions during the live show at 23:00 ET. Maher and the panel then responded to selected postings at the end of the show. The "Blogga, Please!" segment was discontinued, and New Rules brought back, on February 15 following the resolution of the strike. Additionally, during the strike, Maher aired pre-recorded interviews by himself with everyday people about the election and other issues after the opening monologue.

Established early on, the final New Rule served as a segue into the closing monologue. On the March 7 episode, the closing monologue returned to the format of the show. The opening skits, however, have not yet reappeared, except for April 4 and 11, 2008.

Instead of doing a second satellite interview near the forty-minute mark, the January 11 episode also featured the debut of the "Real Time Real Reporter", a blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

ger or political pundit who is brought on midway through the show as an extra panelist to offer opinions on the latest election campaign happenings. Such correspondents have included Matt Taibbi
Matt Taibbi
Matthew C. "Matt" Taibbi is an American author and journalist reporting on politics, media, finance, and sports for Rolling Stone and Men's Journal, often in a polemical style. He has also edited and written for The eXile, the New York Press, and The Beast.- Early years :Taibbi grew up in the...

, Frank Luntz
Frank Luntz
Frank I. Luntz is an American political consultant and pollster. His most recent work has been with the Fox News Channel as a frequent commentator and analyst, as well as running focus groups after presidential debates...

, Amy Holmes
Amy Holmes
Amy M. Holmes is a news anchor on Glenn Beck's GBTV. She formerly was an independent political contributor for CNN and has appeared on Fox News. She has also appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher several times. Holmes graduated from Princeton University with a BA in economics in 1994...

, P. J. O'Rourke
P. J. O'Rourke
Patrick Jake "P. J." O'Rourke is an American political satirist, journalist, writer, and author. O'Rourke is the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on...

, Dan Savage
Dan Savage
Daniel Keenan "Dan" Savage is an American author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor. Savage writes the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column Savage Love. Its tone is frank in its discussion of sexuality, often humorous, and hostile to social conservatives, as in...

 and others.

Changes in 2009

The 2009 premiere was on February 20 at the earlier time of 10:00 PM EST. Season seven also premiered on HBO Canada
HBO Canada
HBO Canada is a Canadian television channel, which airs programming sourced from the HBO subscription service in the United States. HBO Canada is not available as a standalone channel, but as one channel within the TMN and Movie Central multiplexes....

 day-and-date with HBO in the U.S on February 20. The opening sequence was also slightly changed to include then President-Elect Barack Obama and his family waving to a crowd of supporters on election night in November 2008.

Also, the show aired one continuous season as opposed to airing episodes in the spring and fall with a summer break in between.

For a short time the Real Time panel was reduced from three panelists to two for the new season. Maher jokingly attributed the new panel line-up to the current economic crisis, stating that it was a means of reining in spending for the HBO show; however, Maher later stated that there is no connection between the failing economy and the producers' decision to remove the third guest. During his show on March 13, 2009, Maher reacted to the confusion sparked by his remarks from his previous show regarding the panel stating, "I said as a joke that we had cut down the panel to two people because of economic times, and people took me seriously. No. It's just because I'm tired of talking to three people sometimes." However, the panel was once again at three panelists for the show one week later, on March 20. In addition to the panel reconfiguration, Maher has instituted a one-on-one in-studio interview segment in lieu of the past seasons' satellite interviews. The interview with James Carville
James Carville
Chester James Carville, Jr. is an American political consultant, commentator, educator, actor, attorney, media personality, and prominent liberal pundit. Carville gained national attention for his work as the lead strategist of the successful presidential campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill...

 on the May 8th show, however, was conducted via satellite.

On April 10, instead of doing the monologue and panel discussion segments, Bill did two extended one on one interviews with Ron Howard
Ron Howard
Ronald William "Ron" Howard is an American actor, director, and producer. He came to prominence as a child actor, playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days for six years...

 and Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

. Additionally, on June 26 Bill brought back the one on one format to interview Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz
Cameron Michelle Diaz is an American actress and former model. She became famous during the 1990s with roles in the movies The Mask, My Best Friend's Wedding, and There's Something About Mary. Other high-profile credits include the two Charlie's Angels films, voicing the character Princess Fiona...

, Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton is an American actor, screenwriter, director and musician. Thornton gained early recognition as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in several early 1990s films including On Deadly Ground and Tombstone...

 and Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...


On August 28, a special show aired with two one-on-one interviews with hip-hop artist and mogul Jay-Z
Shawn Corey Carter , better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, having a net worth of over $450 million as of 2010...

 and longtime journalist Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public...

 and there was no Overtime segment.

Changes in 2010

HBO renewed Real Time for an eighth season, which began Friday, February 19 at 10:00 PM Eastern Time with an encore at 11:00.

On April 9, Maher skipped a monologue and, instead, had three one-on-one interviews. Chris Rock
Chris Rock
Christopher Julius "Chris" Rock III is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, television producer, film producer and director. He was voted in the US as the 5th greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central...

, Alice Waters
Alice Waters
Alice Louise Waters is an American chef, restaurateur, activist, and author. She is the owner of Chez Panisse, a Berkeley, California restaurant famous for its organic, locally-grown ingredients and for pioneering California cuisine.Waters opened the restaurant in 1971. It has consistently ranked...

, and Billie Joe Armstrong
Billie Joe Armstrong
Billie Joe Armstrong is an American rock musician and occasional actor, best known as the lead vocalist, main songwriter and lead guitarist for the American punk rock band Green Day...


The show went back to going on a summer hiatus beginning on June 11. The final half of the season ran from September 17 to November 12. The 2011 season began on January 14.

Christine O'Donnell

On September 17, 2010, Maher aired a clip of Delaware Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
Christine Therese O'Donnell is an American Republican Party politician who founded two advocacy organizations. She has been an advocate for nonprofit clients and nonprofit causes for nearly 20 years. A Tea Party favorite, and with strong financial support from the Tea Party movement, she defeated...

 from the October 29, 1999 episode of his old show Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect is a late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002. It premiered on Comedy Central from 1993 to 1997, and later on ABC in 1997, which cancelled it in 2002....

where she discussed that she had "dabbled in witchcraft." This was perhaps the most notable of numerous controversial statements by O'Donnell that made her the most covered candidate in the 2010 mid-term election cycle. O'Donnell went on to film a rebuttal commercial claiming "I'm not a witch, I'm you."


Maher was a critic of the Bush administration; however, his panel attempts to present a more diverse set of views. Frequently, it consists of a liberal commentator or political figure, a conservative commentator or political figure, and a third individual who does not have as clear an ideological label, or someone with moderate
In politics and religion, a moderate is an individual who is not extreme, partisan or radical. In recent years, political moderates has gained traction as a buzzword....

 beliefs. This third individual is often an actor, comedian, musician or other entertainment figure, though many times the role is filled by someone unaffiliated with American politics such as a foreign commentator or diplomat.

Maher's personal views have evolved over the course of his career. On his old show, Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect
Politically Incorrect is a late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002. It premiered on Comedy Central from 1993 to 1997, and later on ABC in 1997, which cancelled it in 2002....

, he used the word "libertarian" to describe his personal leanings, and on one episode said he believed in God but had little respect for organized religion. He now describes himself as a "rationalist", as someone "preaching the gospel of 'I don't know'". Maher identifies himself as politically unaffiliated and disagrees with the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 party on most issues, and with the Democratic Party on many of their party platform's planks. He endorsed the candidacy of Ralph Nader of the Green Party in the U.S. presidential campaign of 2000. After the 2000 election, Maher was among those who felt that votes cast by progressives for Nader possibly cost Democratic candidate Al Gore the election, and put George W. Bush in the White House. During an episode on which Nader and Michael Moore were guests, both Maher and Moore begged Nader not to run again in 2004 (season 2, episode 11). He endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 leading up to the 2004 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. In 2008, he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and harshly criticized Republican candidate John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

's policies. He also heavily criticized McCain's Vice Presidential pick, Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

's intelligence and qualifications. While critical of many Republicans, Maher interviewed then-presidential-candidate, Republican Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

, giving him some positive air time. He often cites Paul's views in order to demonstrate the diversity of views on the right.

Maher has strong opinions on U.S. drug policy, advocating for the legalization of marijuana. He is against censorship, often citing his own dismissal from ABC and the backlash against the Dixie Chicks
Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks are an American country band which has also successfully crossed over into other genres. The band is composed of founding members Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines...

. He is also against conservative attitudes towards sex and sexuality, mocking outrages over Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

's infidelity
Lewinsky scandal
The Lewinsky scandal was a political sex scandal emerging in 1998 from a sexual relationship between United States President Bill Clinton and a 25-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of...

 and Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson
Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American recording artist and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 25 years...

's "wardrobe malfunction
Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy
Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was broadcast live on February 1, 2004 from Houston, Texas on the CBS television network in the United States, was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a...

". He is also not shy about his anti-religious views and frequently reiterates his belief that religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 is detrimental to society. He is widely known for his support of animal rights groups, such as PETA
Peta can refer to:* peta-, an SI prefix denoting a factor of 1015* Peta, Greece, a town in Greece* Peta, the Pāli word for a Preta, or hungry ghost in Buddhism* Peta Wilson, an Australian actress and model* Peta Todd, English glamour model...

. Hot-button political issues such as health care, the unhealthy American diet, corporate influence in government, migrant farm workers, the environment, food safety and public health are mentioned frequently on his show.

Real Time With Bill Maher is often rated TV-MA for pervasive strong coarse language, crude sexual humor and adult themes.


Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 calls Real Time one of the best shows on television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, and Maher was a regular guest on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....



A book based on the show, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer
New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer
New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer is a 2005 book, published by Rodale Books, by comedian Bill Maher. The book is a commentary on a variety of subjects ranging from cell phones to celebrities to politics....

, was published by Rodale Books in 2005.

Award nominations

The show has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series is a category in the Primetime Emmy Awards. It is awarded annually to the best variety show or similarly formatted program of the year....

from 2005 through 2011.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.