You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John Oliver Vows AT&T’s Buy of Time Warner Won’t Change ‘Last Week Tonight’

Much in the media industry will change if the U.S. government approves AT&T’s pending $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc., but John Oliver insists his HBO series, “Last Week Tonight,” won’t be one of them.

“I do not anticipate the ground underneath us shifting,” Oliver told reporters at a press event Monday. “If it does, that’s going to be a problem. We’ll go down screaming.”

Oliver’s weekly HBO series, which returns for a new cycle this Sunday, has gained renown for its in-depth treatment of serious subjects – although it is ostensibly a comedy program. Among the topics Oliver and his team have explored in recent months are net neutrality; the Equifax security breach; corporate consolidation; and the effect the growing power that Sinclair Broadcast Group has on local news. It’s fair to assume that AT&T could have an interest in or an opinion on several of those subjects.

Oliver has also used his perch at “Last Week Tonight” to make fun of products, including McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light Lime. In 2015, for example, he suggested the fruit-flavored beer tasted like a “lime Jolly Rancher fished from the mouth of Mickey Rourke” and   lime jolly rancher fished from the mouth of Mickey Rourke.” And he joked that same year that items on McDonald’s “Dollar Menu” reminded him of “normal food that was cursed by a vindictive wizard.”

I don’t take for granted the fact that we get to s–t talk companies,” said Oliver, noting that HBO’s financial model did not depend on commercial support. “It’s really, really great to have that kind of freedom.” He added: “Being a d–k to companies is the best.”

The comedian also added some context to a much-scrutinized exchange he had with actor Dustin Hoffman. In early December, Oliver moderated a discussion held at New York’s 92nd Street Y to commemorate the 1997 movie “Wag the Dog,” which starred Hoffman and Robert DeNiro. The actors were involved in the discussion, along with producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson. During the discussion, Oliver pressed Hoffman on previous accusations of sexual harassment and Hoffman accused Oliver of “putting me on display.”

Oliver said people who were surprised he would delve into the topic should not be. “I felt like it would have been very weird not to bring it up,” he said. “I felt like he should have been aware he was going to have to answer this the next time he had to answer to anything.” He added: “I don’t know how little he would have to think of me to think I wouldn’t bring it up.”

While Oliver and his staff have not broadcast a new episode since November, he said the crew behind “Last Week Tonight” had been hard at work in the intervening weeks. He declined to offer specific details about coming shows or stunts being planned, but indicated the news cycle offered plenty of material. “It’s not like the problems of the world are finite,” he said.






More TV

  • Apple Reveals New TV Streaming Service

    Apple Reveals New TV Streaming Service

    Apple on Monday unveiled plans for its long-anticipated streaming TV service. Sharing a stage with top talent including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, Viola Davis, and Kumail Nanjiani, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Apple TV+, the new platform for original television programming. “TV is more than just entertainment, it’s cultural,” Cook said [...]

  • La Liga Launches LaLigaSportTV OTT Streaming

    Spain’s La Liga Launches Pioneering OTT Service to Promote Spanish Sports Federations

    Spain’s top Soccer league, La Liga, has unveiled a new OTT service, LaLigaSportsTV. The service provides audiences with free coverage of major and minor Spanish sports content streamed directly to their personal devices. It looks set to be the first such service offered by a major European league, and of singular scope and objectives. LaLigaSportsTV [...]

  • Veep Season 6

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of March 25, 2019: 'Veep' Final Season, 'Barry' Season 2

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Veep” launches into its final season, and “Barry” season 2 debuts, both on [...]

  • Mandy Moore Walk of Fame Honor

    'This Is Us' Star Mandy Moore on Why She Is 'Operating at My Best Now'

    “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore successfully transitioned from a teenage pop star to an adult who juggles singing, acting and, soon enough, producing professionally. On March 25 she is being celebrated for her achievements with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honor she calls “tremendously humbling.” “I feel like I’m operating [...]

  • Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Jon Huertas,

    ‘This Is Us’ Creator Teases Final Moments of Season 3 Finale

    The final moments of the “This Is Us” Season 3 finale were so secretive, that series stars Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson received redacted scripts. Justin Hartley said when he found out the last moments, he told himself, “Oh f—, they did it to me again.” Brown, Watson and Hartley joined other cast [...]

  • Apple Event: How to Watch Live-Stream

    How to Live-Stream Today's Apple Event

    Monday is the coming-out party for Apple’s Hollywood ambitions: After years of trademark secrecy about its plans to stream into video entertainment, the tech giant is set to pull back the curtain at a media event. The live program kicks off at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, on Monday, March 25, from the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content