The political journalism of careers of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann ascended to a different plateau in 2010 with the publication of their book, “Game Change,” their reporting on the historic presidential election of 2008.
That tome was loaded with juicy details of that campaign: the fears about Bill Clinton‘s reputation as a ladies man (now being revived by Donald Trump); the stunningly bullying behavior of Elizabeth Edwards; the insanity of how and why John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running-mate.
Its popularity ultimately ended up being made into an HBO movie directed by Jay Roach, best known for his work on the “Austin Powers” movies, as well as “Recount,” the entertaining story of the 2000 Florida recount election. Halperin and Heilemann had literally gone Hollywood.
Their 2012 successor, “Doubling Down,” was not nearly so successful, mainly because the 2012 campaign just wasn’t all that interesting.
For over a year now, the two reporters have hosted “With All Due Respect” on Bloomberg Television. Though there were rumors at one point that Bloomberg major-domo Michael Bloomberg wanted to cancel the series, the show seems to have found its legs as we near the voting in Iowa (it doesn’t hurt to have Donald Trump bringing more eyeballs to cable news overall). The show has now been picked up by MSNBC, which airs it at 6 p.m. Eastern, right after it shows on Bloomberg.
Now comes a weekly Showtime documentary series, to begin airing this Sunday night, called, “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.” It’s a joint effort produced with political consultant Mark McKinnon.
“I want the nitty-gritty of how campaigns works. I want access to Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, but I also want the people behind the candidates,” Showtime President David Nevins told POLITICO last month.
“We can develop characters like any good story. You’ll develop characters and you’ll stay with them. We’ll find a compelling 23-year-old kid who dropped out of college to follow Marco Rubio on the road, we’ll stay with that kid,” Nevins said. “Like any great television show, the audience identifies with characters and follows them.”
See the trailer below: