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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" will return with new episodes Friday without both writers and two of its most popular features, Maher's opening monologue and the closing segment "New Rules."
The round-table discussion with celebrity guests will stay as the producers of the live political talk show are tweaking the rest of the format because of the Hollywood writers strike, which is now in its third month with no end in sight.
The most recent season of "Real Time" was cut short by the walkout. The November 9 season finale was canceled and replaced by a rerun.
Monologues performed by talk show hosts who are Writers Guild of America members are at the center of a controversy, sparked by "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno's decision to write openings for his show, which returned last week without writers.
The WGA has been adamant that, under its strike rules, such hosts cannot perform any "writing services" for their shows, including penning their own monologues. Meanwhile, NBC has claimed that the hosts are exempt and are within their legal right to write monologues according to WGA's 2004 collective bargaining agreement.
"Real Time" is one of three political comedy shows that are returning this week without writers, along with Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."