One of the more unique and unusual programs spotlighted at Deadline’s inaugural The Contenders Emmys event held last month at the DGA Theater, was Showtime’s The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth. Indeed the only elephants on display at this “circus” are of the GOP variety as the series attempts on a weekly basis to chronicle the most significant and interesting events in any given seven-day period during this crazier than ever campaign season.
The brainchild of executive producers and on-camera reporters Mark Halperin, John Heileman and Mark McKinnon, political junkies all, was to follow the politicians around and put it all together and in perspective in a half-hour instant documentary for a Sunday night audience. Showtime featured this series along with Homeland in its Contenders slot.
As they explained in our conversation in front of several hundred TV Academy and key guild members, the logistics of it all are daunting. This is a show that even network execs don’t get to see until hours before it hits the air as all the high-def footage is sent to New York, where it is edited almost right until airtime each week. But remarkably, it has the feel of a documentary that was shot and edited over many months. And as they say, they also got lucky with the emergence of Donald Trump, who really made things unpredictable. The trio, longtime political insiders and reporters, also talk about the unique access The Circus gets that no other outlet has, enabling viewers to feel like they are really there behind closed doors — which sometimes is literally the case. They call getting this on the air every week a “miracle times seven.”
The show aired during the key primary season and will return to Showtime in July just as the campaigns heat up at the major party conventions. To watch my conversation with them, just click the link above.