March 27, 2006, 12:00 AM

“Amazon Fishbowl” host Bill Maher enters the “gold rush” of e-retailing

Joking on his first live video program on Amazon.com that TV is “so 20th Century,” TV personality Bill Maher is happy to be part of the “gold rush” of e-retailing as the new host of “Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher,” he tells Internet Retailer.

Joking on his first live video program on Amazon.com that TV is “so 20th Century,” TV personality Bill Maher is happy to be part of the “gold rush” of online retailing as the new host of “Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher,” he tells Internet Retailer.

“We live in a consumer culture,” Maher says in an e-mail interview for a story in the magazine’s April issue. “So I’m delighted to be pitching my tent in the middle of world’s biggest, most successful online shopping mall.”

Amazon Fishbowl debuted as a pilot in January, and will run each Thursday evening for 12 weeks beginning in June. In the pilot program, which can still be viewed on Amazon.com, Maher interviews author Stephen King and quips about his other interview program, on cable television’s HBO channel, is stuck in the last century.

His Fishbowl job is offering something that he can’t get through his HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” TV`s Maher says. “Episodic Internet programming strikes me as this vast, unexplored yet-to-be,” he says. “It’s like the Gold Rush. I wanted to stake my claim.”

He figures the Amazon venue will offer him the chance to interact with a more mainstream audience than he gets on HBO. “And, best of all, I’ll have the privilege of kicking things around with some of the most creative minds in literature, film, television and music,” he says. “What’s not to love? We aim to make ‘Fishbowl’ every bit as smart and as engaging as the television shows I’ve done.”

Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

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