Published October 20, 2007
LOS 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.