Opinion Columnists David Zurawik

Showtime is bringing back 'The Circus,' with Alex Wagner replacing Mark Halperin

Alex Wagner (Rob Kim / Getty Images)
Alex Wagner (Rob Kim / Getty Images)

Showtime is going back to “The Circus” — without Mark Halperin. 

The network announced Wednesday that the behind-the-scenes political documentary will return for a third season on April 15, with CBS News correspondent Alex Wagner replacing Halperin, the influential and once-ubiquitous political journalist who was brought down by allegations of sexual harassment and assault last year. 

She will join co-hosts John Heilemann, who co-wrote the bestselling “Game Change” with Halperin, and political advisor Mark McKinnon. Currently co-anchor of “CBS This Morning Saturday” and a senior editor at the Atlantic, Wagner previously hosted “Now With Alex Wagner” on MSNBC from 2011 to 2015 and is known for her liberal perspective. She’s also previously appeared in “The Circus.” 

“’The Circus’ has established itself as a primary source of insightful, comprehensive analysis during major political events,” David Nevins, president and chief executive of Showtime Networks, said in a statement. “In these pivotal and turbulent times, we’re so thrilled to have Alex Wagner joining John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon to provide access and context to the personalities and events behind the week’s news.”

“The Circus,” which debuted during the contentious presidential primaries in early 2016, combines exclusive interviews with candidates and key political figures, on-the-ground reportage and analysis. The season ahead, which will include new episodes in the spring and the fall, will follow the critical midterm elections and the second year of the Trump administration. 

The docuseries has won praise for its gripping, insider look at contemporary politics, but has also been criticized for its focus on personality and narrative rather than policy.  

Until October, when he was accused of sexual misconduct by roughly a dozen women during a previous job at ABC News, prompting Showtime, NBC News and HBO to cut ties with him, Halperin was one of the most well-known political pundits on the air. In addition to his bestselling book franchise, Halperin had a miniature media empire that included a job as a senior political analyst at MSNBC, where he was a fixture on “Morning Joe,” and as co-host of “With All Due Respect,” which aired on Bloomberg Television and was rebroadcast by MSNBC. He and Heilemann were also at work on another book, since shelved, about the 2016 presidential election that was, like “Game Change,” to be adapted by HBO. 

Wagner, 40, is the latest female broadcaster to replace a man ousted over charges of sexual misconduct. On Tuesday, Hoda Kotb was named permanent co-anchor of “Today,” where she has been filling in for the ousted Matt Lauer since November. PBS is currently airing “Amanpour on PBS,” hosted by Christiane Amanpour, in the slot vacated by Charlie Rose.


11:20 a.m.: In an earlier version of this article, Matt Lauer’s last name was misspelled Later. 

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