HBO confirmed to PEOPLE that Bill Maher will appear on this Friday's Friday Real Time, though his long-term future at the network remains unclear

By Jodi Guglielmi
June 05, 2017 04:09 PM
Real Time With Bill Maher Season 10

Bill Maher will return to host Real Time on HBO this week after drawing criticism for uttering a racial slur on the air.

HBO confirmed to PEOPLE that Maher will appear on the show Friday, though his long-term future at the network remains unclear, and at least one guest for the next episode of Real Time has already backed out, with Sen. Al Franken‘s rep Michael Dale-Stein confirming to PEOPLE on Monday that the congressman has canceled his scheduled appearance for Friday.

“Senator Franken believes that what Bill Maher said was inappropriate and offensive, which is why he made the decision not to appear on the next episode of Real Time,’ ” reads Franken’s statement. “He was glad to see Bill, whom the Senator considers to be a good friend, apologize and express sincere regret for his comment.”

Maher, 61, ignited controversy last Friday when he used the N-word during an interview with Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, who appeared on Real Time to promote his book The Vanishing American Adult. Maher uttered the slur while joking with Sasse about visiting his state. Sasse had noted that adults don’t typically dress up for Halloween in the Cornhusker State, prompting Maher to say, “I’ve got to get to Nebraska more.”

Sasse replied, “We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” and Maher responded, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n—–.”

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Maher’s remark was widely condemned online, and HBO released a statement Saturday morning denouncing it as “completely inexcusable and tasteless.”

Maher issued an apology, saying in a statement, “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”