Showtime’s David Nevins on Firing Mark Halperin From ‘The Circus’

Mark HalperinShowtime 'The Circus' Panel at the TCA Summer Press Tour, Day 15, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Aug 2016
David Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Showtime CEO David Nevins was “blindsided” by sexual-harassment charges against Mark Halperin, executive producer and star of documentary series “The Circus.”

“I’ve known Mark for many, many years,” Nevins said Saturday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. “He’s an old friend. It was very difficult to be kind of blindsided by that. Once it became clear, we decided very quickly that the show would go on without him.”

In October, CNN reported on accusations from five women against Halperin of sexual harassment. Two days after the CNN story broke, Halperin was removed from “The Circus,” a political documentary series that had already been renewed for a second season.

Nevins said that Halperin told him about the accusations shortly before CNN reported on them.

“I became aware with a phone call from Mark about a day or so before the story broke,” Nevins said.

In the new season, journalist Alex Wagner is set to join returning hosts and creators John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon. Nevins said that he had been aware from the show’s first season that its dynamic — three white men exploring contemporary national politics — was problematic, and that Wagner had been brought in as part of an effort to correct what he viewed as a flaw in the series.

Nevins said that plans to add Wagner to the show were already in motion prior to Halperin’s firing.