Politically Incorrect

Politically Incorrect

infobox television
show_name = Politically Incorrect

caption =
format = Comedy, Discussion
runtime = 30 minutes
creator =
starring = Bill Maher
country = USA
network = Comedy Central (1993–1997)
ABC (1997–2002)
first_aired = July 25, 1993
last_aired = July 5, 2002
num_episodes =
website =
imdb_id = 0108897
tv_com_id = 3008|

"Politically Incorrect" was 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 1996, and later on ABC in 1997, which cancelled it in 2002.

The show first originated from New York City, but soon moved to Los Angeles to make it easier to get "stars" as guests. It was taped at CBS Television City, where it remained even after its move to ABC. (Coincidentally, the New York episodes were shot at the CBS Broadcast Center.) The first episode featured comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers, Republican Party strategist Ed Rollins, and comedian Larry Miller. The show won a 2000 Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series, and was nominated for seventeen others, including one for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series every year from 1995 to 2002, and one in 1997 for Maher in the category of Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program. The show also won two Cable Ace Awards in 1995 and 1996 for Talk Show Series, and was nominated for a third in 1997. It was also nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for best Comedy/Variety series in 2001 and 2002. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108897/awards]

The show's writers included Scott Carter, Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, Chris Kelly, and Chris Rock.


The show began with a brief topical monologue from Maher. Then Maher introduces the guests individually, promoting their current projects. Four guests appear, usually a mix of individuals from show business, popular culture, pundits, political consultants, and occasionally regular people in the news, discussing topics in the news selected by Maher. Maher moved the conversation along and encouraged guests to be themselves. Maher described the program as "The McLaughlin Group" on acid." cite news
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E7D9103BF934A15751C0A962958260&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/M/Maher,%20Bill
title = TELEVISION; Lots of Political Humor, and No Morton Kondracke
date = 1994-02-27
accessdate = 2008-01-17
publisher = New York Times

Occasionally Maher would interview a single guest, but those occasions were rare. The show was pioneering in mixing political figures and entertainers. Maher tried to air all points of view, especially controversial ones. Guests could be both aggravating and insightful, with the conversation similar to a cocktail party with quick-witted guests.

Controversy and cancellation

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (of which frequent guest Barbara Olsen was killed on American Airlines Flight 77), U.S. President George W. Bush said that the terrorists responsible were cowards. On "Politically Incorrect's" September 17 show, Maher's guest Dinesh D'Souza disputed Bush's label, saying the terrorists were warriors.Bohlen, Celestine. (2001-09-21.) [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04EFDA163DF93AA1575AC0A9679C8B63 "Think tank; In new war on terrorism, words are weapons, too"] . "The New York Times" online archive. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.] Maher agreed, and according to a transcript replied "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."

While similar comments had been made in other media, Maher's comments became a major controversy. Some advertisers withdrew their support, and some ABC affiliates stopped airing the show temporarily. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer denounced Maher, warning that "people have to watch what they say and watch what they do." [Carter, Bill and Felicity Barringer. (2001-09-28.) [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE4D91F3AF93BA1575AC0A9679C8B63 "A nation challenged: Speech and expression; in patriotic time, dissent is muted"] . "The New York Times" online archive. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.]

Maher almost immediately apologized, and explained that he had been criticizing U.S. military policy, not American soldiers. He pointed out that whether the attacks were cowardly was irrelevant to whether they were morally right or wrong. Nonetheless the controversy was considered to be a key element contributing to the show's cancellation.Fact|date=May 2008

The show was canceled the following June, which Maher and many others saw as a result of the controversy, although ABC denied that the controversy was a factor, and said the program was canceled due to declining ratings.(2003-05-05.) [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/05/entertainment/main552433.shtml "Maher: Politically incorrect on broadway".] "CBS News" website. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.] Kirn, Walter. (2002-05-26.) [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9805EEDE1338F935A15756C0A9649C8B63 "The way we live now: 5-26-02; The end of the affair"] . "The New York Times" online archive. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.] [Associated Press. (2002-06-29.) [http://www.usatoday.com/life/2002/2002-06-29-maher.htm "Maher tapes final episode of 'Politically Incorrect'"] . "USA Today" online, retrieved on 2007-10-09.] Maher said that the show struggled for advertisers in its final months. [Maher, Bill. (2006-09-10.) [http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/suncommentary/la-op-maher10sep10,1,1091514.story?coll=la-headlines-suncomment "When can we finally be funny again?"] "The Los Angeles Times" via latimes.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.]

Maher now hosts an hour-long program on HBO called "Real Time with Bill Maher", which follows a similar format.


ee also

*List of late night network TV programs

External links

* [http://www.hbo.com/billmaher/ Real Time with Bill Maher Official Site]

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