Bill Maher will debut a new segment on Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel in which comedy talent affiliated with HBO will close the show with some take on an element of the sports industry. Maher will close the February 24 edition of Real Sports, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary season.
Running periodically for the 2015 season only, the segments will be three to four minutes long; Maher will present his New Rules for Real Sports to kick it off. Also booked are Lewis Black and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Susie Essman. Chris Rock also “is expected to appear later this year,” HBO said; no word on John Oliver, whose contract HBO this week extended for two more years, which was bad news for Comedy Central as it looks for its Jon Stewart replacement.
“The comedy segments will provide a unique, refreshing and opinionated take on different hot-button issues in the world of sports,” show senior producer Joe Perskie explained.
Speaking of Gumbel and comedy, he starred in one of this year’s funnier Super Bowl ads, for BMW.
HBO’s making a big push for Gumbel’s 20th anniversary season on Real Sports, including Gumbel’s first Q&A appearance at a TV Press Tour in 19 years, last month, in which he told a couple hundred members of the media there is “so little” sports journalism being practiced these days.
“What passes for sports coverage is terribly sycophantic. The media tends not to ask the same difficult questions that they ask of politicians and businessmen. We give people in sports a pass,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, there are some abuses that go unreported and un-addressed.” The expression “broadcast partner,” he said, ” is the worst word in the English language. Once you have that, you’re not doing journalism.”