HBO Drops Trump Election Miniseries Amid Mark Halperin Sexual Harassment Claims

The project, announced in March, was set to be directed by Jay Roach and produced by Tom Hanks.
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Mark Halperin

HBO is dropping its planned miniseries about the 2016 presidential election after journalist and author Mark Halperin was accused of sexual harassment by five women.

"HBO is no longer proceeding with the project tied to the untitled book co-authored by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on the 2016 Presidential election," the network said Thursday in a statement. "HBO has no tolerance for sexual harassment within the company or its productions."

The allegations were first reported Wednesday by CNN and came from Halperin's tenure at ABC News as political director. The claims ranged from Halperin propositioning employees for sex to him pressing up against several women without consent while he was clothed and had an erection.

Halperin apologized for his conduct in a statement Wednesday and said that he is pulling back from his day-to-day work "while I properly deal with this situation."

Announced in March, the untitled 2016 election miniseries would have marked Halperin's second project at the pay cabler. Halperin and frequent collaborator John Heilemann co-wrote the book Game Change on which the 2012 HBO movie was based. Centered on the 2008 presidential election and specifically the Republican party ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, the telepic nabbed five Emmys, including for best writing, and three Golden Globes.

A writer had not yet been announced for the untitled mini, which was to be based on source material from Halperin and Heilemann. Game Change director Jay Roach was announced to return for the new project, as were Game Change executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman of Playtone.

In addition to his work at HBO, Halperin also recently created, produced and hosted the Showtime political docuseries The Circus, which ran for two seasons and documented the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election as well as President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office. The last new episode of that series aired May 7.

In a statement Thursday, Showtime said it was still assessing the future of the series in the wake of the allegations made against Halperin. The Circus had not yet been renewed for a third season.

"During Mark’s time working with us, we have not seen nor have there been allegations of any untoward behavior," a network spokesperson said in a statement. "We are aware of these reports and will continue to evaluate all options should we decide to move forward with another season of The Circus. There is no tolerance for sexual harassment within Showtime and its productions."

NBC News and MSNBC, where Halperin served as a senior political analyst and appeared on such series as Morning Joe, suspended Halperin indefinitely shortly after the allegations first surfaced.

"We find the story and the allegations very troubling," MSNBC said Thursday in a statement. "Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood." He had been at NBC News and MSNBC since February.

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