11:12am PT by Kate Stanhope
Showtime Evaluating Future of 'The Circus' After Mark Halperin Sexual Harassment Claims
Showtime is evaluating the future of political docuseries The Circus following the allegations of sexual harassment made against host Mark Halperin while he was political director at ABC News.
"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."
The statement comes five months after the season two finale of the docuseries, which Halperin co-hosted with longtime collaborator John Heilemann, as well as Mark McKinnon. The docuseries first premiered in January 2016 as a weekly look into the 2016 presidential election. However, after Donald Trump's shocking win over Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, Showtime then greenlighted a second season to focus specifically on the new administration under the reality show host turned commander-in-chief. The series had not yet been renewed for a third cycle.
The allegations from five women made against Halperin were first reported by CNN Wednesday and all came from Halperin's tenure at ABC News as political director. The allegations 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."
NBC News and MSNBC, where Halperin served as a senior political analyst and appeared on series like Morning Joe, suspended him indefinitely shortly after the allegations first surfaced.
"We find the story and the allegations very troubling," MSNBC said in a statement Thursday. "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.
In addition to The Circus, Halperin was also working on a political project at HBO — a scripted miniseries about the 2016 presidential election. The untitled project, which had Jay Roach attached to direct and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman set to exec produce, will be based on source material from Halperin and Heilemann. No screenwriter has been announced for the project, which was announced in March. Halperin and Heilemann also penned the book Game Change on which the 2012 HBO movie was based. That film went on to win five Emmys and three Golden Globes.
However, HBO dropped the project on Thursday amid the allegations against Halperin and issued a statement saying that the network "has no tolerance for sexual harassment within the company or its productions."
Halperin is just the latest public figure in recent months to be accused of sexual harassment. Prolific film producer Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback, former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly and celebrity chef John Besh are among those who have also been the subject of accusations.