They admit it: The creative team behind Showtime’s presidential campaign docu series The Circus: Inside The Greatest Political Show on Earth said today they can’t go wrong with Donald Trump in the big tent. Speaking at Deadline’s The Contenders event, John Heilemann, reporter and exec producer, said, “We had some luck bestowed on us and we’ve made some of our luck. The elephant in the room is Donald Trump.”
Heilemann observed that as “an actual reality star,” Trumps understands the role of television in the campaign better than any previous presidential hopeful. His presence, he added, has led to “the country watching [a campaign] in a way they never had before.”
The Circus team, including journalists Mark Halperin and Mark McKinnon, talked about the “high wire act” of following president hopefuls on the campaign trail in real time, taking viewers to places usually ignored by traditional news outlets, like the recent steak dinner where Republican party leaders expressed their panic about Trump.
McKinnon praised Showtime president David Nevins for agreeing to present a show network execs cannot see until hours before it airs, noting that the “real time documentary” format is attracting viewers who are not usually interested in politics. News junkies “love it, but for people casually interested [in politics], it’s a real access point.”