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Bill Maher slams screenwriters’ ‘kooky’ strike demands: ‘This is show business’

Bill Maher has criticised the ongoing screenwriters’ strike, calling the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) demands “kooky”.

The guild, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, has been on strike since 2 May, after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union representing the major TV and film studios, broke down.

In July, Hollywood was effectively shut down entirely when the actors’ union, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), joined in the fight for a fairer deal.

Speaking with regards to the initial WGA strike, on the latest episode of his Club Random podcast with fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan, 57, Maher, 67, said: “They are asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky.

“What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007’s strike, where they kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not. This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league,” the former Real Time host added.

This current strike follows the precedent set by the 2007 WGA strike, which took issue with royalties from DVD sales.

Bill Maher (Getty Images)
Bill Maher (Getty Images)

Now, the union’s chief demands for higher residuals have evolved to account for the streaming era, which has left actors and writers with little to no financial benefit from their shows being streamed.

Residuals are long-term payments to those who worked on films and television shows for re-runs and other airings after the initial release.

Other WGA demands include wage increases and assurances that their work won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).

Taking a moment to clarify his argument, Maher said: “I’m not saying they don’t have points.

“I feel for my writers. I love my writers. I’m one of my writers. But there’s a big other side to it,” he continued. “And a lot of people are being hurt besides them – a lot of people who don’t make as much money as them in this bipartisan world we have where you’re just in one camp or the other, there’s no in between.”

Maher went on to criticise the strike’s poor timing, arguing that: “They’re striking against the streamers, who are looking for a get-out-of-jail card for how much they overspend.

“They have tons of stuff in stock, so they have no reason to wanna settle this strike. They struck at just the wrong time; they have no leverage.”

In recent years, Maher has become known for diatribes against “woke” politics, the Covid-19 vaccine and so-called “cancel culture”.

He was recently mocked for calling Greta Gerwig’s new Barbie movie “preachy” and “man-hating”.