CNN announced Monday that the network would add comedian Bill Maher’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” to its lineup on Friday nights.
The network said the new programming change will begin on Feb. 3 and air during “CNN Tonight.”
Semafor previously reported, based on sources familiar with the matter, that network executives were considering a comedy to host a non-traditional program that could air in the 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot. Maher was one of the many faces reportedly being considered, along with Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and Arsenio Hall.
CEO Chris Licht told the Los Angeles Times, however, that the network was not going to create a “topical comedy show in prime time.”
“I worked on a comedy show,” Licht told The Times. “And it took over 200 people to produce an actual comedy show. So no, I would not be so foolish as to, in one fell swoop, hurt the brand of comedy and news by trying to do a comedy show on CNN.”
Licht did say that he is “casting a wide net to help broaden the appeal of our prime time” without offending “our core audience of news junkies.”
“I would never do anything that would hurt the brand and reputation that we’re working so hard to restore.”
Licht added the network was in “conversations with culturally relevant individuals from the worlds of entertainment, sports and comedy who can bring fresh and unique perspectives to the news.”