Real Time with Bill Maher will air as scheduled on Friday, as HBO confirmed to Deadline, but will have to book another lawmaker. Sen. Al Franken decided to cancel his booking for the first broadcast after Maher made headlines using a racial slur on last week’s show.
A Franken rep cited Maher’s “inappropriate and offensive” use of the slur that the reason the Saturday Night Live alum turned senator from the state of Minnesota has bowed out of Friday’s telecast.
“He was glad to see Bill, who the Senator considers to be a good friend, apologize and express sincere regret for his comment,” the rep added in an emailed statement first reported by Huffington Post. Franken is on tour promoting his book, “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.”
Last Friday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) was Maher’s guest and, at one point invited Maher to the state to “work in the fields” with locals. Maher shot back, jokingly, that he was a “house [expletive], using the slur Larry Wilmore had lobbed in praise at President Barack Obama two White House Correspondents Dinners ago.
Maher subsequently issued a statement apologizing, and HBO on Saturday morning, calling the comment “completely inexcusable and tasteless” as well as “deeply offensive,” announced it had removed it “from any subsequent airings of the show.”
In confirming Maher’s show would go on, as planned, HBO did not say whether Maher would address his use of the word on the previous telecast. But another guest for this Friday’s show, Symone Sanders, who is former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders and a frequent CNN contributor, has been quoted saying she plans to discuss with Maher his use of the slur – so expect that to happen.