Bill Maher may take his political incorrectness to HBO. The outspoken comic would bring to the cable channel a tongue-in-cheek panel-discussion show much like his canceled ABC late-night program
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You’d think after hosting ”Politically Incorrect” for nine years, first on Comedy Central, then on ABC, that Bill Maher would be tired of the concept. Especially after the drubbing he got last fall, from the White House on down, for making comments some perceived as unpatriotic in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, and especially after ABC decided that ”PI”’s ratings didn’t justify the controversy and canceled the show in the spring, clearing the way for a presumably apolitical late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel that launches in January. But Maher wants to take the ”PI” format — himself and a panel of disparate guests discussing current events — to HBO in a yet-to-be-titled series next spring, according to the Washington Post.

HBO told the Post and Reuters that the show is still in the negotiations stage, and Maher has declined to comment on it, but two sources told the Post that the show is all but a done deal, and that HBO will introduce it to TV critics at its annual presentation in January. HBO seems a natural fit for Maher, not just because the channel’s HBO Downtown unit produced ”PI,” but also because it would let him and his guests speak freely and uncensored. Also, HBO hasn’t had a comic-driven issue-oriented series since Dennis Miller’s show left the air this summer.

In the meantime, an unrepentant Maher has recently published a book of essays called, ”When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden.” The title, a twist on an old wartime propaganda slogan, notes his frustration with an America whose unwillingness to curb its gas-guzzling behavior funnels oil profits to countries that may sponsor terrorism. ”I do think the patriotic thing to do is to critique my country,” he tells the Post, criticizing the government for urging Americans to fight terror not by sacrificing, as in past wars, but by consuming as much as ever. ”How else do you make a country better but by pointing out its flaws? You know, here in America we’re loyal to our flaws. It’s like, if we change even our flaws there’s something wrong.”

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