HBO is staying real with Bill Maher.
Pay cabler has inked a two-year overall deal with Maher, who will continue his “Real Time With Bill Maher” Friday night live talkshow through 2011 and will see its episode order increase from 24 to 35.
Separately, HBO said Thursday it has acquired domestic TV rights to doc “My Trip to Al Qaeda,” directed by Alex Gibney.
HBO senior VP of entertainment Nancy Geller said additional “Real Time” segs have been ordered because the gap between seasons infuriated fans of the show.
“People were always asking why he’s not back on,” Geller told Daily Variety. “A stand-up audience of his recently was so rowdy when they were asking questions about where he’d been.”
“Real Time” will end its current season in November. The ninth season will begin in February, will likely take July off and run through November.
With the new deal, Maher has now been associated with HBO for 20 years going back to his days on “Politically Incorrect,” which was produced by an HBO production shingle for Comedy Central and later ABC.
Maher has also done nine solo specials for HBO and his new deal includes other projects outside “Real Time,” including another unscripted show, that are still in development.
“My Trip to Al Qaeda” is a film adaptation of journalist Lawrence Wright’s one-man play. Developed from Wright’s 2006 bestselling book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” the film is an emotional journey performed by Wright, chronicling fundamentalist Islam’s rise to power and the dilemma he faces as a writer in maintaining his objectivity.
The pic, which will screen at the Tribeca film fest, is set to debut on HBO in the fall.