Bill Maher has signed off from his HBO talk show for the summer, but he's only taking a vacation from skewering politicians, not work, as he dives into a Web-based show on Amazon.com.
The Internet marketing giant begins live streaming of the weekly "Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher" next Thursday, and for 12 installments this summer, the controversial TV personality will interview authors, celebrities and musicians, with an aim toward increasing the shopping Web site's audience and sales.
As Maher conducts interviews, books and CDs of each guest will be made readily available to make them "closely integrated with the show experience," Amazon spokeswoman Jani Strand told Reuters.
On HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," the host interviews a mix of politically minded celebrities and politicians on topical issues, with a bent toward politics. On the Amazon show, the Web site will pick out the guests.
Maher promises that he'll be his same feisty self. Previews of the online show show him interviewing the likes of author Stephen King, actress Toni Collette and musician Rob Thomas.
The move is part of Amazon's plan to step up original programming to attract customers. In the past, the Web site has invited celebrities to provide original video and writing as a tie-in to help spur sales of their products. Amazon has at least 12 original shows in the works.
Maher's career has been marked by his no-holds-barred monologues. Over the past few months, he's excoriated the Bush administration, oil companies and the health care industry. His "Politically Incorrect" talk show on ABC ended in the wake of controversial statements he made following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The 50-year-old comedian resurfaced on HBO, where he's cultivated a loyal following, and his mix of guests have included Sen. John McCain, Democratic party leader Howard Dean, writer Gore Vidal and filmmaker Michael Moore, as well as Willie Nelson, George Carlin, Jason Alexander and Ben Affleck.
"Real Time" ended its season last week with Maher appealing to former president Bill Clinton to make a guest appearance on the show.