John Oliver took a couple of jabs at HBO Max on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight — which, of course, airs on HBO.
The comments come two weeks after he criticized parent Warner Bros. Discovery for its decision to shelve Batgirl. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that CEO David Zaslav opted to shelve the project in order to take a tax write-down on the $90 million film. Meanwhile, several other series and movies also have been pulled from the streamer by Warner Bros. Discovery as part of its plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into one service.
On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver referenced the write-down during a segment about former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is running for the state’s House seat in a special election.
Oliver quoted from an Aug. 16 New Yorker story: “Sarah knows how to work a crowd…but it’s Sarah, Inc.” He went on to say that “Sarah, Inc.” sounds like the title of a sitcom starring Kat Dennings that has already quietly disappeared from HBO Max,” before jokingly tweaking HBO’s famous slogan, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” Said Oliver: “HBO Max. It’s not TV. It’s a series of tax write-offs to appease Wall Street.”
Earlier in the segment, Oliver noted that Palin running for office is giving him deja vu from 14 years ago. “It’s like it’s 2008 all over again: [Palin’s] running for office, the U.S. entered a bear market, and Sex and the City is making spinoffs that it quite frankly doesn’t have the material to back up,” Oliver joked, showing the marketing poster for both the first Sex and the City theatrical movie and HBO Max’s recent revival And Just Like That. “Society is going backwards,” he added.
Two weeks ago, during a segment on unused COVID-19 vaccines, Oliver criticized the Batgirl decision. “We let the vaccine sit unused on a shelf in our reserves like an expired Chobani or a $90 million movie on HBO Max. By the way: Hi there, new business daddy. Seems like you’re doing a really great job. I do get the vague sense that you’re burning down my network for the insurance money, but I’m sure that that will all pass,” he said.
Oliver frequently criticized previous parent company AT&T when it owned HBO, referring to it as “business daddy” as well. He also previously slammed And Just Like That… for moving forward without original star Kim Cattrall.
‘Last Week Tonight’ Host John Oliver Calls HBO Max “a Series of Tax Write-Offs to Appease Wall Street”