Clay Aiken, Judith Miller, Jon Meacham Topline ‘Real Time With Bill Maher,’ 4/17

bill maherHBO’s political and entertainment salon “Real Time with Bill Maher” is Friday night’s must see, hear and do, as it continues its 12th season Friday, April 17 (10:00-11:00 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT), with a replay at 11:00 p.m., exclusively on HBO.

Maher continues its 13th season Friday night, as he delivers his unique perspective on contemporary issues, the show includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with panelists, and interviews with guests.

Journalist Judith Miller is the top-of-show interview guest. Singer Clay Aiken is the mid-show interview guest. The roundtable guests are correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, historian Jon Meacham and Neera Tanden, president, Center for American Progress.

Miller will be a doozy of a guest. She’s on a book tour for “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey,” which is her memoir of her three decades at the newspaper of record. Her reporting on Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMDs stashed in Iraq cemented the story the Bush administration was selling to everyone else. In a new memoir, she explains why she did this.

The Daily Beast reviewed the book and writes:

As the war proved increasingly costly and catastrophically quixotic (“dumb,” as Senate candidate Barack Obama called it), she later admitted her WMD stories were “totally wrong,” albeit unavoidably so—mistakes committed in good faith by a truth-seeking journalist working hard to do her best.

Much of The Story, including a chapter titled “Scapegoat,” is Miller’s self-pitying account of how she was demonized by critics and enemies, inside and outside the Times, as an influential cheerleader for an unjustified and ultimately ruinous war conducted under false pretenses.

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Clay Aiken will be another can of worms. He’s starring in The Runner Up, a behind-the-scenes of his bid to run for a House of Representatives seat in the 2nd District of North Carolina. Maher took him to task for ignoring the gay issues.

Bill Maher headlined his first special on the network in 1989 and has starred in ten solo specials to date, including the hour-long presentations “Bill Maher: Live from D.C.” (which debuted Sept. 12), “Bill Maher…But I’m Not Wrong,” “The Decider” and “I’m Swiss” (both nominated for an Emmy® in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special category), “Victory Begins at Home,” “Be More Cynical,” “The Golden Goose Special” and “Stuff That Struck Me Funny,” and two half-hour stand-up specials, plus the specials “30 Seconds Over Washington” and “Comic Relief VI™.” Maher is also an executive producer of the innovative news magazine show “VICE,” which concluded its second season on HBO earlier this year and returns in 2015.

Monsters and Critics has hailed Maher as “a singular voice of pragmatic reason in a landscape of polarized pussies” while Variety noted, “There may not be a more eclectic guest list on all of television.”

HBO has renewed the series for a 13th season of 35 editions, to begin in Jan. 2015.

Maher was the creator and host of “Politically Incorrect,” which was produced by HBO Downtown Productions and debuted on Comedy Central in 1993. The series moved to ABC in 1997 and ran through 2002.

Other HBO playdates: April 19 (1:30 p.m.), 20 (4:00 a.m.), 21 (4:30 p.m.) and 22 (10:15 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: April 17 (3:00 a.m.), 18 (7:15 a.m., 1:00 a.m.), 19 (7:00 p.m.), 20 (8:00 p.m.) and 21 (10:00 p.m.)