THE HOTTEST TICKET IN HOLLYWOOD FRIDAY NIGHT WAS AT THE LIVE BROADCAST OF "Real Time With Bill Maher" at CBS. The weekly nationwide HBO show in which Bill Maher holds a panel discussion usually goes off smoothly and represents the art of "Live Television," something which there is very little of in prime time except for "Saturday Night Live."
On Friday night's broadcast, about 25 minutes into the show, a man goes crazy in the audience, starts ranting and raving and is taken out by security. Maher starts screaming as to where the (profanity) security is. Maher jumps off the stage into the audience and gets involved in the turmoil. When he returns to the stage and tries to start again, another person starts screaming at him. And another, and another, and another. A clear organized set-up. The protesters are upset with Bill because he doesn't believe the conspiracy theories that the government was involved in the fall of the towers on 9-11. A wild night indeed. Already being talked about everywhere.
How did I spend Friday night? By TOTAL COINCIDENCE, I decided to come to the live broadcast. I am a baby boomer. I grew up with the wonderful art that was "Live Television."
Whether it was "Bozo's Circus" on WGN or "What's My Line" on CBS, this was a phenomenal art. Shows broadcast live. No digital censoring. Whatever happens--happens.
I shared the magical memories of live television with my fellow baby boomer guest on the way there. We talked about how ANYTHING could happen when it was live.
And we happened to pick the one show in which anything like this has ever happened to Bill Maher.
If you watch the rebroadcast, you can clearly see me in the first row, as Bill Maher runs up the aisle into the center of the dispute. I am waving my hands left and right--I had a feeling I would be right in the frame. I even was interviewed as the key eyewitness to the action:
Bill Maher Helps Security Remove Protestor During Live Broadcast
Saturday, October 20, 2007LOS ANGELES — Bill Maher can add "security guard" to his job description alongside comedian and political commentator.
Maher on Friday night helped security remove a rowdy protester from the studio during his weekly HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," and it was all captured on live television.
Maher was talking science during one of his weekly panel discussions when a protester in his audience stood up, held up a smuggled-in sign reading "9/11 is a cover up fraud" and shouted comments to the same effect.
The host tried to shout down the audience member, who only became more agitated.
"Do we have some (expletive) security in this building," Maher yelled, "or do I have to come down there and kick his (expletive)?"
When security reached the man's aisle and the man resisted leaving, Maher ran into the seats and helped them push him out the door, shouting "Out! Out! Out!"
Several other protesters, sprinkled throughout the audience, then stood up and shouted.
"This isn't the Iowa Caucus, OK, we're not here to debate," Maher shouted with most of his audience cheering him on. "This is the problem with live television."
The incident was shown live on the East Coast, and the network appeared to show the entire affair unedited for the taped-delayed West Coast version.
After the instigators were ejected, Maher told his panelists — MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson — that they often linger outside his studio to share 9/11 conspiracy theories with him and try to get into the show.
"It's the only time I defend Bush," he said.
"I'm thinking about firing my audience department," he added.
Regular audience members found the ruckus thrilling.
"We picked a very exciting night to be here," Eliot Stein, a 54-year-old high school teacher, said via cell phone. "There's few live TV shows anymore, and here you got to see, it was like a movie. it was great."
Phone and e-mail messages left with HBO officials late Friday were not immediately returned.