HBO has renewed Real Time with Bill Maher for a ninth season as part of Maher's new two-year deal with the network, it was announced today by Nancy Geller, senior vice president, HBO Entertainment. Slated for 35 hour-long episodes, the season will launch in early 2011.

"Bill Maher is one of the most sought-after opinion makers on TV," noted Geller. "I'm delighted that this fearless and provocative observer will return to HBO next year. By presenting an increased number of episodes in 2011, we'll be able bring this live, topical show to our subscribers almost year-round."

Allowing Maher to offer his unique perspective on contemporary issues, Real Time with Bill Maher includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with panelists, and interviews with in-studio and satellite guests. Currently in its eighth season, with episodes debuting Friday at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT), the show was hailed as "hands down the funniest show on TV" in Rolling Stone by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who added, "It surprises me more than any other show I watch."

A favorite of subscribers since his first special on the network in 1989, Maher has starred in nine solo specials on HBO, including the hour-long presentations Bill Maher...But I'm Not Wrong (which debuted in February), Bill Maher: The Decider and Bill Maher: I'm Swiss (both nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special category), Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home, Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home, The Golden Goose Special and Stuff That Struck Me Funny, and two half-hour stand-up specials, plus the HBO specials 30 Seconds Over Washington and Comic Relief VI.

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.

His most recent book, "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer," made the New York Times best seller list, as well as best seller lists across the country. He is also author of the books "When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden: What Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism," "Does Anybody Have a Problem with That? The Best of Politically Incorrect" and the novel "True Story." Maher produced and starred in the 2008 feature film "Religulous," the seventh most successful documentary of all time.

Season eight credits: The executive producers of Real Time with Bill Maher are Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Brad Grey, Marc Gurvitz and Billy Martin; produced by Dean E. Johnsen; directed by Hal Grant.