You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Circus’ EPs, ‘Weiner’ Directors on the Similarities Between Anthony Weiner, Donald Trump

At first, when executive producers Mark McKinnon and Mark Halperin were developing the idea for their real-time docu-series “The Circus: Inside The Greatest Political Show On Earth,” they thought the title might “a little over the top.”

“We didn’t want the title to be demeaning,” McKinnon said. But, he added, “We had no idea the election would turn out the way it did.”

“Donald trump’s mouth is more of a 24/7 phenomenon,” Halperin said. “In the last 24 hours he’s said seven things that make for pretty interesting stories.”

“There isn’t a week or a day or even an hour that goes by in this election where something fascinating isn’t happening,” McKinnon added.

The two political journalists discussed their Showtime show, returning in the fall, at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. They were joined by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, the team behind the documentary “Weiner,” about disgraced former congressman and onetime New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, husband of close Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. (The critically acclaimed documentary, which had a limited theatrical release, will premiere on Showtime on October.)

Steinberg and Kriegman described how they attained so much intimate access with their subjects, Weiner and Abedin. Partly, they said, it was because both husband and wife wanted their story’s full complexity to be laid bare. “He wanted to be seen as more than just a punchine,” Steinberg said.

“He’s so much more of a person than people thought he was,” Kreigman said. “He’s got his flaws and his talents… amidst all of the insanity and circus of Weiner’s campaign, you do see something somewhat noble or admirable [in him], a genuine intent to keep on going.”

Steinberg added, “Anthony and [Donald] Trump are very different, but they both understood that in order to get attention in this media age, you have to put on a show.”

Halperin pointed out that Weiner and GOP nominee Donald Trump shared four words in common: “Sometimes wrong, never boring.”

In response to a question that asked if Weiner’s combined blinkered delusion and clear-eyed observation were endemic to politics, McKinnon opined that it was “very common.”

“It’s just the nature of our politics, unfortunately — in many ways it has discouraged good people from going in and good people to get out, and attracts the sort of people who need the mirror of politics to see their own reflection,” he added.

Halperin and McKinnon also teased a bit of what will be happening on “The Circus” starting in the fall. Abedin, a fixture of the Clinton campaign, may feature in “The Circus.” They are also looking for “disgruntled Republicans” at “bars and churches in the Washington area.” There is also some discussion of airing something after the election, with footage that didn’t make it into the series originally, though the producers promise that nothing like a secret “Trump peyote scene” has been embargoed for after Americans cast their vote.


Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Emmy Contenders 2019

    Emmys 2019: Critical Last Looks on 'Game of Thrones,' 'Fleabag,' More Contenders

    With only days to go before the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, the final voting have long since been cast and counted. But hopes still abound for favorite series and performers. Here, Variety’s television critics look at the leading races, who’s going into the final stretch with some real heat and what they hope will [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 4", regia di

    Italian Commissions Offer Big Incentives for TV Productions

    Italian TV is traveling around the world as never before, and giving audiences a deep dive into the country’s locations. They range from storied cities such as Rome, Venice, Naples and Milan to classic countryside backdrops, including Tuscany and Umbria. There is also the southern sensuality found in Apulia and Sicily, and, of course, the [...]


    TV Ratings: NBC's 'Downton Abbey' Special Less Than Grand

    NBC aired its “Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event” special Thursday night to mark the release of the new “Downton Abbey” movie. However, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and co. would probably turn up their noses at the 0.4 rating and 2.8 million viewers the special achieved last night. It was beaten in the [...]

  • Glow Netflix Emmy Comedy Race

    'GLOW' Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Netflix

    The final bell is ringing for “GLOW.” The Netflix series has been renewed for Season 4, which will also be the show’s last. Series creators, executive producers, and showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch will return in those roles for the final season, along with executive producers Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann, and Mark Burley. The [...]

  • Halsey, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Singer Halsey

    Emmys: Halsey to Sing In Memoriam Tribute at Sunday's Ceremony

    Pop star Halsey has been tapped to perform during the Emmy Awards on Sunday, while comedians Adam Devine and Thomas Lennon will also contribute to the telecast. With no Emmy host this year, producers Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted are relying more on presenters and other contributors to keep the show moving, Halsey, whose hits [...]

  • Bianna Golodryga CBS News

    Bianna Golodryga Joins CNN in Full-Time Role

    Sometimes, it pays for news anchors to take root in more than one organization. When Bianna Golodryga joined CBS News in the fall of 2018, she carved out a unique role for herself. She would work as a co-anchor on “CBS This Morning” while maintaining a position she had already established as a contributor to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content