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Showtime Boss David Nevins Says He Was ‘Blindsided’ by Mark Halperin Allegations

TCA 2018: Political docuseries “The Circus” to return with CBS News anchor Alex Wagner replacing Halperin

Showtime President and CEO David Nevins explained the network’s decision to continue “The Circus” without Mark Halperin on Saturday.

The network announced that the political docuseries would return in April for a third season without Halperin, following the allegations of sexual harassment and assault made against the host back in October.

“I’ve known Mark for many, many years. He’s an old friend, so it was very difficult to be kind of blindsided like that,” Nevins said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday. “Once it became clear, we decided very quickly that it was best that the show continue without him.”

Nevins said he became aware of the allegations in a phone call from Halperin the day before CNN broke the story. At the time, the network was already “in conversation” with “CBS This Morning Saturday” co-anchor Alex Wagner about joining the show for Season 3, reporting alongside John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon.

“No one co-host was irreplaceable,” McKinnon said in an interview with the New York Times. “Everybody said, ‘We want the show to go on.’ We’re going to let the dust settle, and the dust settled.”

Halperin, a veteran political reporter and MSNBC contributor, saw his career implode in October after CNN published multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault while Halperin worked as political director at ABC News more than a decade earlier.

In response, Halperin issued a lengthy statement of apology, saying he was “profoundly sorry for the pain and anguish” caused by his actions.

Nevins expanded on Showtime’s response to the Halperin situation and the larger cultural shift in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal later in his panel, listing three things that are within his control as the leader of an organization.

“You’ve got to have the right culture … that’s one,” he said. “Two is diversity and the many forms of that. You’ve got to have an organization that’s really trying to build and foster diversity and makes it comfortable so the best people want to work there. And then the third is to have policies and processes to deal with problems as they come up.”

Nevins and President of Programming Gary Levine said they are proud of the workplace culture that’s been fostered at Showtime, but the network’s productions are “a little bit more arms-length.”

Their responsibility moving forward, Nevins said, is to ensure “that everybody knows who to call, when to call and what to do. And that the people in power respond in the smartest, best way possible.”

“There’s been an intensity the last couple of months over these issues. I don’t think of myself as naive, but I also feel somewhat taken aback by some of the intensity and heaviness of this,” Nevins said. “I think it’s really going to be an ongoing process.”