Survival of the Fittest
We're in New York's Lincoln Center. The snow is coming down and the garden hoses that supply running water to the trailers are frozen solid. Still, the show goes on. Circus life can be a grind - and it isn't for everyone. A crewman, a trapeze artist, and even Artistic Director Paul Binder weigh their options and contemplate making a transition to the "real world."
Previously on Circus:
We're in big trouble here.
Just came in this morning and said, "Stop with the net."
They're gonna be getting rid of the flying act.
PAUL: We have fallen off from previous years.
The economy's definitely affecting that.
GUILLAUME: Knowing how business has been, there would be
a point where survival would be in question.
A bomb threat at the circus? Who'd want to bomb a circus?
HEIDI: It's bad news.
They searched his room.
It's crazy, dude.
♫So here we are♫
♫It's like we never really left the start♫
♫Time heals the wound♫
♫But then there's still a scar♫
♫To remind us of the way it's meant to be♫
♫Oh, sing a song♫
♫A melody for what has come and gone♫
♫Try to convince the choir to sing along♫
♫Here's to tomorrow or whatever gets you by♫
♫Oh, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la.♫
♫Up and down♫
♫Tell me, how does it feel♫
♫To be so high?♫
♫ High, high ♫
♫Looking down here...♫
STEVE SMITH: What happens in this big top, in that ring
is that real men and women,
these extraordinary people,
do incredibly amazing feats.
That is a testament to all of us.
It's an affirmation of the human spirit
that anything is possible,
and that we have the potential to do that
because they're doing it.
PAUL BINDER: It's about can-do.
It's about, "We can overcome."
It's about, "Let's get to the next town.
"Let's get to the next step.
Let's get to the next inspiration."
We know each other, not just because we do somersaults.
We know each other because we have the sense
that we can do it.
We can touch an audience.
And the audience will respond.
♫Did the clown make you smile?♫
♫He was only your fool for a while♫
♫Now he's gone back home♫
♫And left you wandering there.♫
STEVE: Poof! We're in New York. Wow! Magic.
We are finally here
in New York City, at Lincoln Center.
We are here
for three months, which is a beautiful thing.
It's the best gig, the circus.
BARRY LUBIN: You're in the entertainment capital
and the culture capital of the world.
Call me a snob, but I think it is.
JAKE LaSALLE: One of the primary reasons that we signed this contract
was so that we could be living and performing
at the Lincoln Center.
It's your new home, Chels.
MAN: If I make it in New York,
I'll make it anywhere. (laughs)
KWAME: When you're on the road, your real habits aren't there.
In New York, everybody's home,
which means their real habits
start sneaking out.
We fold this over just a little bit,
bring this back real quick and open it.
There's more tarp under here, though.
WOMAN: Lincoln Center, it's-it's going to be tough,
and I'm going to be so much closer
to all the people
that I was trying to get away from right now.
KWAME: I would say a lot of people are actually trying
to escape their lives.
When you join a circus...
you no longer have to go any of the places
that you used to go to.
The only thing you have to do
is come to work on time and work.
On the shoulder.
On this lot, I have four names:
Kwame, Jacks, Captain Heat, and Captain Cool.
And I'm here
'cause I have a (bleep) job.
My job is the building,
takedown and maintenance
of the actual tent itself.
Harsh job sometimes.
Boring job most of the time.
Low-paying job all of the time.
Let's just say there's a woman,
prison, babies, and courts, and that explains it all.
Most people who know those four things
know you end up in jobs like this.
MAN: I need a job right now.
The recession is crazy, and I seen the ad on Craigslist,
so, you know, I came out here to see what I could...
see if I could get hired or not.
If you can work full-time, let us know.
If you can work part-time, let us know.
That's the schedule, okay?
I worked for a long time in a union, so it's a little hard
to do that now, yeah.
If you can work... Look at the schedule and the show...
for the show dates. If you can work full-time,
work full-time, put full-time on the paper.
If you can't work...
This is unprecedented.
PAUL: I think we had six jobs available.
I need more, please...
over 200 people lined up for the jobs.
That may be a sign of the times.
Weekends are fine.
Weekends are fine? Yes.
Okay, just wait right there.
WOMAN: Most interviews that we do, usually, it's like, 30.
The most we've ever had was, like, 50.
250? We've never done that. Ever.
It looked like a concert outside.
PAUL: When we opened in Virginia,
we saw that people weren't rushing to buy tickets.
And in the last few days here, same thing.
Have a good day. Thank you.
Keep us in mind, please. Okay.
PAUL: You know, we could go out of business
if business is that bad.
Now we're also counting on our supporters in tough times.
But where do they come from? They come from Wall Street.
They come from, uh, businesses that are gonna suffer
through this time, too.
So, it-it makes us nervous.
Good afternoon and welcome to Lincoln Center!
First of all, our genuine thanks to Felipe
and everybody who shoehorned all of this stuff
into this tiny, little space here at Lincoln Center.
BARRY: Steve is the guest director,
and Paul's the, uh, artistic director and founder.
So, today we have a run-through.
A technical run-through.
Uh, preceded by a...
uh, rehearsals of the...
all of the production numbers--
what else, Mr. Steve? Carnivale.
BARRY: Um, the guest director has only so much say.
Essentially the, uh, artistic director, which is Paul,
has the-the final say.
That's all today.
And then this evening at 6:30, I believe...
Yes. Correct. ...we're having a technical run-through.
But it will be a run-through, everybody.
BARRY: Paul went from directing the show, uh, for 20 years
to becoming the producer of the show, and has always been
the artistic director of the show.
I love the theater!
I should like to die upon the stage.
PAUL: I defer to Steve.
Let him bring the energy of the show to it.
I love the guy. I love his vision.
I love his... the way he sees
and-and-and believes in who we are.
I love that he listens to what I have to say.
(laughing): You know.
This is the man I love.
Are we coming out?
♫The man I love...♫ (laughs)
Use my name.
Get the good seat.
Hello. PAUL: Now, look...
there aren't many people who get to see Mr. Paul...
in his drawers.
I'm from Brooklyn, New York, originally.
Now my address is The Big Apple Circus, wherever it goes.
I just want you to see one thing.
I always keep a picture of Annie Fratellini
on my dressing table because Annie was our mentor.
It was her circus, Nouveau Cirque de Paris,
that Michael and I first started our circus careers.
We were the American jugglers... Paul and Michael.
Although, he insisted it was Michael and Paul, but you know.
MICHAEL: Paul and I joined the Nouveau Cirque de Paris
with Annie Fratellini in the early '70s.
Early on in that show, we would peek through those curtains
into that incredible world
that Annie and-and Pierre were creating.
And we looked at each other and said, "Do you believe it?
We're in a circus!"
It was during this time that Paul had the inspiration
to create the Big Apple Circus.
Paul said, "Michael, I'm in the process
"of raising $250,000, a quarter of a million dollars,
"to create our own circus in New York.
Want to help?" I said, "Sure."
So, from that point on, we became little cameras
looking at the tent.
How's this made? How's that made?
And we opened our first show under a little
green canvas tent in Battery Park City.
And it is now this $22 million organization
that has evolved in ways
we could never have imagined.
Unbelievable, actually, when you think about it.
PAUL: See you, see you soon.
See you out there.
PAUL: It wasn't until the third year
that I took the role of ringmaster.
It seemed like a natural role,
being the artistic director of the circus.
Sort of like being the boss man.
So I was dressing up like the boss man, you know.
And the red coat and the top hat all became a part of that.
And it was a character... Mr. Paul.
Now, Mr. Paul is me, but he's sort of me writ large.
My feeling walking into the ring is quite wonderful.
I take a deep breath, I listen to the music.
And I walk in, and suddenly this-this feeling
and it's a very comforting feeling, being in there.
It's a very familiar place.
And the attitude that I basically take
when I walk into the ring is:
"Welcome, everybody, to my living room."
And the message to the audience is,
"Hey, we're human beings just like you,
"and look what we are capable of.
We human beings, look what you are capable of."
And we believe that if we practice our craft right,
they will go through a transformation
as they watch a show,
where they'll come out with a sense that the, you know,
the everyday world can be transformed.
BARRY: I always felt like it was Paul Binder as ringmaster
inviting us, all of us--
the performers as well as the audience--
to sit back and enjoy yourselves
and make yourself comfortable, because...
what you're about to see is, you know, our pleasure.
STEVE: This is a unique season for Mr. Paul
because he will be handing the torch as artistic director
over to Guillaume Dufresnoy.
PAUL: I'm stepping out as artistic director.
I'm stepping out of the ring.
Guillaume's gonna take the artistic director's role.
I do think this is a critical transition.
Guillaume has worked with me for 21 years.
And so all of the artistic decisions
that we've made over the years have been in collaboration.
What I thought is that we should issue
a memo that we can
release, so that everybody
isn't taken by surprise.
Indeed, I made the decisions,
but they were always in collaboration.
Now it's time for him to begin those... making those decisions.
Is he prepared?
I think fully prepared.
Is he me? Oh, no. He's not me. (laughs)
I think the letter should really come from me and you,
and I wonder if it shouldn't come from me
and you and Michael.
I thought it would be more powerful
if it's from you. (phone ringing)
GUILLAUME: I'm fortunate enough to have
been recognized as the designated successor to Paul
as-as artistic director.
And there's no greatest honor,
and there's nothing scarier, uh, that could have happened to me.
It's really, uh, yours.
And I see myself putting something out
when it's effective.
Let's start, let's assume that.
Okay. Let's assume...
You-you gonna type or... no?
However you want to... whatever works best for you.
PAUL: The date of the actual transition to Guillaume
would be the end of the season
at Lincoln Center, when he takes the title as his own.
Guillaume and I are gonna go
to the festivals in Europe together.
But the future stuff is gonna be his decision.
PAUL: He and I so far have worked
very well together on this.
I-I must say, I'm very pleased with that.
Can we do it? I'm sure.
Sounds like it might work.
STEVE: It's extremely necessary
for the Big Apple Circus's future
and life that Mr. Paul step back
and step away.
Because in order for this institution
to live beyond him, it has to live without him.
GUILLAUME: Next year's lineup is almost complete.
There is one spot that I need to fill:
I want you to just feel... What it's like to be inside of...
Just-just general wash... this is all it's gonna be.
We're not gonna have spotlights or anything...
GUILLAUME: It's almost a double role.
There is a-a host that can be a through line
during the performance itself.
But that person also plays a very important role as, uh,
it's the institutional voice
with press events, with guests coming to the show.
So we have selected a few people.
Guillaume, feel free to go back to being grim and upset.
Thank you very much.
GUILLAUME: We have three candidates at the moment.
We will give them a specific text.
We want to test people's ability being receptive
to, uh, to direction.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
And welcome to the auditions
for the new host of the 32nd production
of the Big Apple Circus!
The production schedule is set, and spirits are high.
And why wouldn't spirits be high, Steve?
With three of the most talented artists in the industry
leading the process.
MICHAEL: Thank you, Kevin.
Thank you very much, guys.
Thank you, indeed. That... Is that time
for me to leave? No. No.
You just paid us a great compliment. Thank you.
Well, I meant it from the bottom of my heart,
from the cockles of my heart.
I beg your pardon. It's a perfectly G-rated word...
We'll have none of that talk here, young man.
Okay, moving on?
(plays steady rhythm)
♫Tall and tan and young and lovely♫
♫The girl from...♫
GUILLAUME: Then we will give everyone
an opportunity to show what we call, really, their material.
It could be a-a text, it could be playing music.
Whatever skill they want to display.
(singer whistling tune, strumming)
(playing lively tune)
A blonde, a rabbi
and a horse walk into a bar.
The bartender says,
"Is this some kind of joke?"
(laughter) (continues playing tune)
♫Who can take a rainbow♫
♫Wrap it in a sigh♫
♫Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie?♫
♫The Candy Man♫
♫Yeah, yeah, the Candy Man can♫
♫I said the Candy Man can♫
♫'Cause he mixes it with love♫
♫And makes the world taste good.♫
(song ends, applause)
Please, sit down.
That's too much.
Yes, around the table.
Just your impressions, your thoughts. Uh...
You know what? I'd like to...
In my new role-- this is truth--
I mean, there's a certain discipline
that I'd like to adhere to, which is,
let everybody say what they have to say.
I'll say what I have to say, and then...
There's no decision for me to make.
No. Well, there's... I don't think there's a decision today.
GUILLAUME: There'll be no decision... (mutters)
BARRY: I'll be glad to start.
Um, to me, it's a two-horse race.
Um, I think
Meredith is charming,
but I didn't see him in the same class
as the last two gentlemen.
PAUL: I... By the way, I-I agree.
I would put... rank them
one and two, uh, but I would def...
I would not eliminate Meredith.
I think he had some really interesting qualities
that could be developed, and clearly,
he is directable.
I rank Kevin first.
Thank you, indeed.
PAUL: I rank Joel second, and
I was delightfully surprised with Joel's approach.
The tuba bit
stands on its own.
It could be an act in the circus.
If you make him a character in a show sometime--
it doesn't have to be this show, obviously--
make him a character in a show,
and then he does that tuba routine... is fantastic.
STEVE: Paul is-is really making a concerted effort
to take a step away.
It's really hard for him to let go.
But he is trying,
and Guillaume is making a concerted effort
to not step on toes, so he's trying to move forward,
at the same, taking a step back.
So we're doing this little dance
back and forth between the two artistic directors,
because we're at that point
where it's almost official.
PAUL: You gonna speak?
Everything is... has been basically said,
so, I need to think, and...
Oh, that's right. Of course.
All right. See you around the neighborhood.
Talk to you soon. You bet.
MICHAEL: Barry, could you pick up that scarf
on the floor, please, under the table?
Oh, yeah. Thanks.
You're welcome. All right, see you later.
STEVE: Do we... do we need a couple of minutes with Guillaume?
Uh, that would be great.
Can we text him real quick,
or call him real quick on your fancy-dancy machine?
There's Guillaume now.
We could go right here. Hello!
Yeah. No, we'll just have... it we could just have five minutes.
You're responding to my text?
No, I... Oh, great.
...just naturally came back.
Thank you very much.
So... So, I was just saying to...
Look... Yes. Yeah.
What were you saying?
That when... when you look at the three guys...
Yeah, I mean, for me, there's, uh, there's no doubt
I want to go after Kevin.
It would be my recommendation.
Yeah, it'd be mine, too.
And, uh, I like what he brings. I like that he's different
and we have never had him in our ring.
We all felt the connection, his physical presence.
Agreed. And I don't mean that in a bad way.
All right, thank you. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
I'm call... I'm gonna call him.
Go for it. Call him, yeah. If he's not even out
of the lot, he can come back. (clicks tongue)
This is a very interesting spot for a barn.
I'm Heidi Weirbelus.
I left the circus
when my husband called in a bomb threat in Walden.
I'm here today to visit
and just catch up with the people
and say hello, good-bye before I head back to Colorado
and start my life over again, pretty much.
I missed everybody a lot.
Been keeping in touch with Kwame, and, like, he called me
the other day backstage during a show
and was, like, "Hi, everybody wants to say hi to you."
So I talked to, I think, Chrystie, Andrew and Smitty.
How's it goin'?!
How ya doin', baby? How ya doin'?!
HEIDI: So everybody called me all at once
and was, like, "Oh, we miss you," and I was, like,
"Oh, guys, you're killing me."
HEIDI: Hi. Hey.
How you doing? Good, good, good.
Uh, all right.
I'm, you know...
Single and looking to mingle.
(clicks tongue) Yeah. Yeah.
A little bit, little bit. All right, that's good.
HEIDI: In Walden, everything just kind of
spiraled out of control.
I mean, it was just my husband Ryan at his finest.
Called me the other day and said he wanted paperwork done, so...
There it is. Wow.
He gave me 12 hours notice.
After we left,
the situation just kind of kept getting worse and worse.
We just kind of imploded.
Just got to the point
where we were both just ready to be done.
We both just didn't think that
we could really fix it.
Oh, yeah. He made it real pretty before he left,
but he still left, so...
Oh, I'm sorry.
I mean, we're... Sorry.
The funny part... I... (scoffs)
Did I notice? No. It's good, man.
You don't need the Yuri Bomber in your life.
Welcome back to the circus, yo.
This is the wife of the bomb threat.
No. Come on. I'm just kidding.
No. I know. Are you kidding me?
I know. I'm just... I will always look at you as the horse girl.
HEIDI: But we've always really loved each other,
and, you know, that's never gonna change.
We've been best friends since, you know,
we were still pretending we were unicorns.
What it... Irene?
Is there cream in here or no?
It looks great. It smells great.
MAX BINDER: My dad talks
about the impending transition all the time.
It's a big change, and, uh,
he's just got a sense of limbo right now, I think.
This is not like...
This is not like a recipe.
This is like an invention.
STEVE: It's more than watching your teenage son
or daughter go off to college.
This is a process of
letting go of really everything that you are.
MAX: First on his agenda is he needs to find a place to live.
Um, he doesn't want to stay in a trailer
in upstate New York, so, you know,
he's apartment hunting right now.
STEVE: I mean, these are new things
for a man who's in his 60s.
You have to actually have a house that's real
and a mailbox where the mail comes.
Someone doesn't bring it to you in an envelope.
It comes from the mailman with a stamp on it.
I think you're doing great with the trapeze stuff.
I mean, because that's a real challenge.
It is. Every day there's, like, something different.
Well, yeah. Yeah.
Well... living, breathing moments here.
But it... You know, it shows...
It shows a real sense of focus, so...
JAKE: There is something about Paul's enthusiasm for his
circus that is intoxicating.
Um, and there...
It's a passion that is genuine and-and sincere.
Um, and I appreciate that more than anything.
How are you? All right.
I'd be... I have nothing that a full house wouldn't cure,
I assure you. There you go.
WOMAN: I respect that he... he's the founder of the circus.
And he's never stepped on my toes.
If I've done something wrong, he's told me.
He's told me straight out what I've done.
I go, "Okay." I fix it.
Never argued, never had a problem with him, ever.
Gonna be polite to everybody?
Well, good. Good.
Oh, you have to?
Well, what can I...?
(rock music playing)
Be good to them, you know.
Be nice to the customers.
You know why?
They feed us.
BARRY: When Paul directed the show,
there was a lot of throwing of chairs and screaming,
and you know, I used to say, "I think the direction
of my hair just changed,"
because, you know, he'd just yelled at me
in-in a way that, you know...
He's coming. It's really loud.
I just called him. He's...
Loud and raucous.
Yeah, I know. He's coming. He's on his way.
Okay, thank you, Scott.
BARRY: But, you know, he's a guy who's been
boxing his way out of Brooklyn for a lot of years,
and Brooklyn is still there.
Hey. I know.
I know. I am.
But you're here.
Yeah. Oh, how are you?
I'm good. How about you? Good.
My name is Harmony French.
I'm a flying trapeze artist.
I was, like, 70 degrees. Look at you.
Very good with tanning gun. Yeah.
HARMONY: Earlier this year, I was with the Flying Neves.
I'm sure I'll be pretty white.
HARMONY: We were fired.
So, opening night is when I left.
How's it going? Good. How are you?
How was your trip? Good. Good.
Harmony's coming because Alida could not get out
of a contract that she
had signed with her family, the Flying Wallendas,
uh, to do the seven-person pyramid.
HARMONY: It definitely was embarrassing to get fired.
There were definitely some egos hurt,
including my own.
It's nice to at least do something
with the four weeks that I spent
learning the Sharivari routine.
Oh, I'm sorry.
It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
Why don't you just fly higher?
I should, right?
HARMONY: I've really only been flying on the trapeze for three years.
I went on vacation to Club Med, which is where I met Chrystie,
who's in our troupe now, 'cause she was working there.
And I tried flying trapeze, and then
I was hooked.
HARMONY: And then once it gets in your blood,
it's hard to get out.
There's something about it feeding your ego.
I don't know what it is,
but I know when I take time off
that I don't feel as good about myself
as I do when I'm performing.
STEVE: I don't think you can ever separate ego
from people who are willing to put their lives on the line
on a daily basis
for our enjoyment.
♫Doesn't mean anything...♫
MARK GINDICK: You want to be presented well in the show.
You want to have
your shot in the ring.
(rhythmic percussion playing)
If you feel like you're not having your shot in the ring,
that's... that hits on the ego.
"What's wrong with me?"
(applause and cheering)
There was a time where I was not in the first act.
I was in the show very little in dress rehearsal.
In Walden, I had to make sure
that I was represented in the show better,
which eventually happened in D.C.
The fact that Grandma and I are in the ring together
without Glen, uh, I don't think was done
♫Come on with the rain♫
♫I've a smile on my face...♫
Since Barry and I have had this relationship before,
of course, organically,
that stuff just fired up quicker
than perhaps putting a trio together.
This is a clown's audience tonight.
Yeah. I mean, really
Yeah. a clown's audience.
I loved the button on the "Singin' in the Rain."
That's beautiful. The water bottle on...
Yeah. Yeah. on top.
Is that a full bottle that you're-you're putting on? Yeah.
Yeah, I put the other one away and I go full bottle.
BARRY: Mark's completely open.
He's a wagging puppy dog looking for love and attention.
And I think Glen's a very individual kind of guy.
And, uh, I'm more drawn to people
who are warmer to those things...
where there's input and they're asking for it.
They're constantly asking for it.
'Cause what comes with that is difficulty,
criticism, and pain.
I've been putting my stuff in the prop box here.
That's what they told me to do.
In the what? Oh, really?
'Cause they're gonna lock it.
BARRY: So if you can't really take notes, then you're on your own.
And he is.
Given that, he's doing really well being on his own.
You have a date with Mark?
Yes, we do. Oh, that's nice.
You jealous? No.
Of course you are. Uh-uh.
I don't... I don't need anybody.
MARK: One thing about the circus,
you just need to have a thick skin, anyway.
I mean, just look at the living conditions, to begin with.
I mean, that kind of sets the tone
of having a thick skin and then
going out there and, you know,
showing your heart every day, and it's hard.
Hey, Rosie. What's up?
Well, we're gonna need...
you gotta start treating this up.
We got an audience coming in in half hour.
Oh, (bleep). Got a half hour
before the audience comes.
BARRY: One of the hardest things about the circus is the conditions.
And our water supply comes in and goes out by garden house.
So, if it's below freezing,
you got no water.
We have a, uh, slight, uh,
snow problem and a water pocket at the same time, so,
as we're melting the snow,
it causes other problems... water pockets.
MAN: Show must go on... rain, sleet or snow.
It gets a little bit rough.
Just one of those lucky years.
There's still mushrooms in my trailer.
I don't know if I have to tell that to you...
No, no, it's still active. It's still...
The problem is, as long as it's below freezing,
we can't do anything with it. Okay.
We have to wait till we get to Atlanta,
dry it out, clean it out,
and then we'll start fresh. Okay.
It's because... It's so cold.
The conditions. Okay, good.
Sorry. That's okay.
Well, we'll cook 'em up.
See what they taste like. (laughs)
WOMAN: Malick is not feeling good,
Sultan is not feeling good.
I'm not feeling good.
Um, half the show's not feeling good.
It's one of those days.
Love the circus.
This is not the toughest job, right?
There's-there's harder jobs than mine, that's for sure.
At least I get five minutes of glory out there.
GLEN: Did you do that braid in his hair?
I'm taking it out.
Are you taking it out?
Can you braid my hair later?
You don't have any. Oh, that's right.
I keep forgetting. And yours is steaming.
My head's steaming?
That's 'cause on the planet I come from,
we have a whole different atmosphere and climate.
All right, I'm gonna go inside.
I'll see you later.
See you later.
Are they practicing again?
No, I don't think so.
So, tomorrow they're doing something?
I don't know.
I talked to Sarah and she was like,
"Yeah, we should have a party."
Most circus acts are built around families,
because in this business,
if you want to be with someone permanently,
you pretty much have to be
in an act with them.
You still gonna dress up like this a couple times a week?
The past two years now,
I've been with my boyfriend Jeremy.
Whatever you want, my love.
Just the rhinestones
around your eyes.
He is a prison guard.
He's a lieutenant at a California state prison.
So, it'd be nice if he was in the circus
and did flying trapeze with me.
And I'm sure he feels like it'd be nice if I stayed home.
But you can't help who you fall for, right?
I waiver back and forth between feeling comfortable
with the idea of leaving and the idea of staying.
And I've had a lot of friends
say to me, "Well, why don't you come back to California
and just do corporate gigs?"
that's definitely not the same.
ANNOUNCER: The Flying Cortes!
HARMONY: Living amongst all the performers
and the crew, and spending a period of time together
on a... on a show,
it's very unique.
ALEXANDER: It's very difficult
to have somebody new come into our troupe.
And the hard thing is not the flying, the training...
that's probably the easier stuff.
The majority of people have a problem
adapting to the lifestyle.
KWAME: There's absolutely
no news to break.
I swear to you.
I think Kwame and Heidi is an official thing.
SMILEY: Kwame is a good guy
for Heidi, too.
MAN: But what do you know?
Tell me about what's going on...
These are the basics:
Ryan and Heidi come here as a married couple.
He leaves after being the Yuri Bomber.
Eventually... they start getting a divorce.
Me and her grow closer.
And eventually we started, as she'd call it, dating.
Are you a couple?
Remember the collar she used to wear?
PAUL: Glen's "Lead a Band" is singing.
First of all, Glen is to be commended.
It was not easy for him.
Gosh, here I am.
I created that piece.
I performed that piece.
I know all of the little stuff about it.
So here I am with my, you know...
uh, "you better get this right" attitude.
(laughing): You know.
And he was terrified.
But he really internalized it, and really has made it work.
And I think the best
direction with him was, you know,
bring your good feeling to it.
Bring your sense of rhythm to it.
Bring your feeling about the kids to it.
Those things emerged and became
the primary issues of how he works in the ring.
GLEN: There was a little stretch there
where I just felt like, "God, what am I doing out here?"
Yeah, I was just dreading walking into the ring.
Each show was worse than the last.
And I was just thinking, "God,
can we just cut this?"
I guess I'll cut my teeth.
WOMAN: We lost our little horse, George, today from colic.
It happens to horses,
but he started colic'ing yesterday at 6:00,
and... we were hoping we could get him through it.
The vet came out, they took him to the hospital
and everything, but they said there was nothing...
We did everything we could,
but there was nothing that they could do.
PAUL: They brought him over to the equine clinic,
as quickly as they could
in the early morning.
And he never... he never... he died.
PAUL: He somehow had something terribly wrong
in his intestinal tract.
What was really sad about it is that
this little horse,
this little stallion, was a real star.
He loved going in the ring.
He, you know, he did
his job every day, was very proud of himself,
and h-he was... it's ver...
it's really awful to lose an animal like that.
WOMAN: He was like part of the family. I mean...
it was really hard going the whole day,
knowing what had happened,
and having to do the shows and hear the music
and... act all happy and like
PAUL: The old, uh, cliché
is "the show must go on,"
but it's about making an audience feel good
bringing joy, bringing wonder, bringing magic into their lives,
and George was one of the ways we did that
and we're sad to lose him, but we, we must go on.
GUILLAUME: How we move forward...
for the act is yet unknown.
It's just a matter of finding
the, the best replacement.
WOMAN: You know, they're going to look
for another little horse, and they know
one that's trained to have him in the show
until, you know, we know what the next step is.
right now it's just missing George.
How long is Heidi gonna be here for?
Three days? Three days? Three days.
But she's not gonna be here...? In New York for three days.
She's not gonna be in this room for three days, right?
KWAME: Next week I am moving to Colorado
When are you leaving?
Moving to Colorado Tuesday.
Are you nervous?
I think Ryan's going to get his neo-Nazi friends
to kill me and chop me up and bury me somewhere...
I couldn't do anything in Walden 'cause she was married,
and evidently the fact that I didn't do anything in Walden
was the saving grace.
It's probably the reason she actually likes me...
'cause everybody else was trying to hit it.
I never had problems with Yuri, never.
I never had problems with him.
I am going to miss Smiley the most.
Smiley's the greatest roommate I've ever had.
I don't even think Heidi is going to be
as great of a roommate.
Are you excited?
KWAME: There is really nothing we do to piss each other off.
We do things that annoy each other slightly.
My music annoys him.
His sexual habits annoy me,
but before I leave, I'm going to get him back.
("The Up and Down" by Dead Heart Bloom playing)
♫Now I'm up, I say♫
♫And I can conquer anything♫
♫At least for these few hours♫
♫I can hold your hand and smile♫
♫Let us brave the rain♫
♫Walk our city hand in hand♫
♫In this, our golden age...♫
Been a pretty long fall, man.
♫It's nothing that the drugs won't cure...♫
And... here we are.
God, I love my life.
♫...that your love won't kill for good...♫
I don't know how much I really believe in it.
But five years down the road, me and Heidi, realistically?
♫Followed by them hanging men♫
♫But on their gallows pole...♫
I'm going to go surprise Heidi
by picking her up at the airport.
I told her I was working the day she is coming in,
that I'm not going to be there
and someone else is going to pick her up,
but I'm going to be.
I knew it was bull (bleep).
How are you?
Heidi is most people's dream girl.
No real need to lie,
personable... you can get along with her.
I slept... and slept and slept and slept.
'cause despite the fact that we both wanted to bang in Walden,
Like they say, a lady in the streets,
a freak in the sheets.
HEIDI: Kwame has actually never been to Colorado at all.
I'm not sure he's even seen pictures,
so it'll be interesting.
I don't think that Colorado itself will be an issue.
There's no reason for me to think that.
I know other black people there,
but the last week before I came here,
I kept looking around, going,
"Oh, he's going to have such culture shock."
He's going to walk away from, you know, the circus
and, you know, all his friends here and, you know, his life.
I'm super excited that he decided to come to Colorado,
and I hope he decides that he likes it
and that he stays for a while
'cause we get along really well,
and I hope this one works out
because, I don't know, it's a new relationship
so the trust is still there, and...
You know, there's still a lot of hope and a lot of promise
for what could be coming next.
ALIDA: You want some tomato
with the black beans? Oh, yeah.
Chrystie was telling me that, I guess,
Harmony's not going to...
she's probably not going to come to Atlanta with us.
Oh, well, then I guess we don't have to...
We don't got to get rid
of all that stuff out of the truck.
Well, she could always change her mind. Her career's more important, though.
I said her career is more important.
when you're not 12 anymore and...
you know, she wasn't born into it, so...
I'm sure she's not planning...
to live her whole life doing it, so...
She did a good job.
No shoes, right? Nope.
You're leaving those. Chrystie's going to ...
You're gonna leave your silver slippers?
They don't belong to me, they belong to the show.
HARMONY: Today's my last day.
Steal 'em. I can't steal 'em.
I enjoyed working with the Cortes.
I'm sure we'll all keep in touch.
No, I wear the, the character shoes.
It's not your umbrella, right?
HARMONY: I don't think my leaving will affect them all that much
because they're all family.
Good-bye. Bye. So long, thank you.
I mean, no matter what, I would always be an outsider to them
'cause their troupe is so closely knit.
You know, okay, I'm gonna walk away from the circus...
and see how everything goes
back home, and if that doesn't work out,
then I can always come back to circus life,
but at least I'll know...
I'll feel more concrete about my decisions, I think.
Yeah, she's in love, you know.
Love conquers all.
So, whatever, we'll soon find out.
To be continued.
uh, the black and white photograph of Max.
Oh, here it is. Okay.
The response has been very subdued.
You know, several people have come to me and said,
"You know, it's fantastic.
It's been great being with you."
There were some good wishes.
Am I sad?
Just the one? MAN: Just the one.
All right, cool. No problem. Eight dollars, all right?
MAN: Why? Why are you wearing that?
For the Chiquita Banana costumes.
We have to go... to wait for the... the change.
SARAH: Tonight is the gala.
It is the... I guess the most
important show of the year for the Big Apple Circus.
PAUL: The gala is an amazing event each year.
We are speaking to our audience of supporters.
We're gonna say,
"Enjoy yourselves and remember, this is the Big Apple Circus
that you've supported all of these years."
SARAH: The people that come
give a lot of money so
the show can run, and
everybody knows how we all have
to give the best tonight.
I take some of the pressure, for sure,
and I'm pretty nervous.
MICHAEL: I would be concerned if I weren't nervous
a little bit before going on.
A lot of supporters
that go back to the very first days,
and for me,
this becomes the only time during the year
that I get to be Mr. Stubbs in the ring with Mr. Paul.
And we touch that place
where we were when all this started.
Paul and I have about the most opposite personalities
you could think of, and...
and I think that that's probably part of why
or why the partnership is so strong.
Ma, ma, ma, roar!
Did you mistake me for Paul?
PAUL: We couldn't be more different.
I'm a Jewish kid born on the streets of Brooklyn,
and he's a
kid who was born in...
Walla Walla, Washington.
PAUL: I graduated Dartmouth,
I got an MBA from Columbia.
MICHAEL: I grew up in poverty.
Had a series of five stepfathers,
was on welfare,
uh, Aid to Dependent Children,
food stamps and government surplus food.
PAUL: In our little cottage colony
in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, we did...
we had a little day camp.
We did little plays and, uh, variety shows.
country-Western music and
the ever next last beer.
PAUL: The assumption was I was gonna become a professional man,
a doctor or a lawyer.
(laughs) How wrong they were.
MAN: Let me tell you something. Look...
Who's first in? Chris, right?
Yeah. All right.
The clowns are going first. Okay, great.
All right, thank you.
CHRIS: Thank you. Good evening, everybody.
Welcome to The Big Apple Circus Gala.
So I want to bring out
the founder and artistic director
of the Big Apple Circus, Paul Binder,
as well as the co-founder, creative director
and founder of the Clown Care Program,
Paul and Michael.
(applause and cheering, fanfare plays)
Thank you, Chris.
I'm reminded of, uh, Mark Twain's comment.
The reports of my recent demise are grossly exaggerated.
I am not leaving the Big Apple Circus.
First of all... Thank you.
And my dedication
is to this.
It's to make sure
that this institution, uh, remains
for the next generation and the generation after that.
And, uh, my greatest satisfaction is when
people come up to me, and they say,
"I first came to the Big Apple Circus
"when I was a kid with my parents.
And here are my children."
And those people and the children of those people
are who I want to dedicate my time and my effort
to make sure there's a Big Apple Circus.
Thank you, everybody. (applause)
MICHAEL: When it was time to introduce Guillaume...
...Paul blanked, and he came back
with this real puzzled look on his face.
And Chris and I stepped forward, we went, "Guillaume. Guillaume."
He goes, "Yes. Yes."
I want you to meet the man who's going to be
the artistic director of the Big Apple Circus.
Please welcome Guillaume Dufresnoy.
(applause and cheering, fanfare plays)
MICHAEL: It was great with Guillaume out there.
That was terrific.
When he came in, I made sure
I was the first one there to shake his hand.
I said, "Welcome to your new life."
(applause, cheering and whistling)
Hey, they like... They like you.
They like you, man.
All right? Thanks.
Shall we start the show?
We're gonna do that, everybody.
Thanks and welcome. Maestro.
BARRY: Guillaume's got a very tough act to follow.
And I'm not talking personality.
I'm talking about
the bottom line.
The gig was done extremely well.
(instrumental rock music plays)
GUILLAUME: The goal this year for the... for the gala
was a... was a million and a half.
And, uh, with the... with the economy, we...
we couldn't get to that.
I think we-we got around half that.
Uh, contribution may keep coming in in the next few days,
but, uh, we're far from goal.
We will have to look at ideas
to raise more money, to guarantee the survival
of the place.
BARRY: We've talked about the company possibly
canceling a couple of the spring and summer dates,
The possibility of a furlough is in the air.
Whatever it takes to stay in business is
totally worth it.
PAUL & AUDIENCE: Nine, eight...
AUDIENCE: Seven, six...
BARRY: Paul is handling this transition amazingly well.
AUDIENCE: ...two, one.
I know he's gonna miss being in the ring because
he loves it.
Yes, we can.
BARRY: And I know that
he's in a certain amount of discomfort
and probably a certain amount of pain.
And I just want to encourage him.
I just want to say,
"You are about to enter the best years of your life,
"though right now, you must feel
that you're losing your baby."
I'm here because of Paul.
(voice breaking): I wouldn't be in the business
So I owe him a lot.
I was done with clowning,
and then I saw the Big Apple Circus,
and I fell in love with it, and...
he encouraged me, and I'm still here.
You know... I might be an accountant now
if it hadn't been for Paul.
Happy New Year.
Happy New Year.
BARRY: He's a great friend.
ANNOUNCER: Next on Circus...
I decided to completely
wean myself off all my medicine:
And it might be the stupidest time in the world
to not take them.
I don't know where my trailer is
'cause I moved into a new camper.
I don't even have my key to it
because it's in my bag that my brother has.
MARTY: My brother and I...
we have separate trailers now.
JAKE: When the performance didn't go as well
as Marty would have liked, he would approach me
aggressively, and so, I responded physically.
♫Maybe something special's on the way♫
♫What's all this about?♫
ANNOUNCER: Want to see more of your favorite characters
and performances from Circus?
Then come one, come all to:
♫I'll find a way back to you♫
ANNOUNCER: Circus is available on Blu-ray and DVD.
To order, visit us online at shopPBS.org
Or call PBS Home Video at 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
♫Let's get everybody on their feet♫
♫Let's get everybody, yeah♫
♫Let's get everybody...♫
♫Let's get everybody♫
♫Come on, get everybody, hey!♫
♫Come on, get everybody, hey!♫