As the premiere of “Homeland” approaches, conflict and terrorism in the Middle East once again dominate the headlines.
The horrors of beheadings of journalists and other acts by the militant Islamist org ISIS are very much on the minds of the show’s writing staff, showrunner Alex Gansa said Thursday night during the show’s premiere screening at the Public Theater’s Library.
Gansa admitted that he’s not entirely sure how the show should handle the latest developments in the real-world drama of terrorism.
“What’s going on in the world right now is so terrifying,” Gansa told Variety. “After (journalist) James Foley was killed we all sat in the story room and just looked at each other. ‘Homeland’ occupies a unique place right now in television in that we have an opportunity to either comment or not comment about what’s happening in the world as we speak and we are really struggling right now at how to best go about doing that.”
“Homeland” star Mandy Patinkin had his own take.
“Our job is not to be reality TV. Our job, if we are doing it right, is to be the poets for the broken world we are living in,” Patinkin said. “What a poet’s job, in my opinion, is to literally bring some light, hope and optimism to the darkness. And that’s what I hope we do.”
The intimate gathering kicked off with drinks and dinner followed by a screening of what Showtime chairman-CEO Matt Blank called a “rough cut” of first episode of the show’s fourth season, which bows Oct. 5.
In keeping with the show’s track record of eerily presaging world events, season four is largely set in Pakistan and Afghanistan and features intriguing additions to the cast including Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) and Suraj Sharma (“Life of Pi”). At present “Homeland” is about halfway through filming its 13 episodes on location in South Africa.
In the season opener, star Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison is now a CIA station chief based in Islamabad and Kabul. She’s also a new mother but living apart from her baby. She is dubbed “the drone queen” by colleagues.
“Homeland’s” third season finale featured the chilling scene of Damian Lewis’ Nicholas Brody character swinging from the gallows after being captured in Iran. Gansa is still hearing from fans who can’t believe Brody is really gone, fueling Internet rumors that the character will miraculously rise from the dead in season four.
“People are going to have to watch the season,” is all Gansa would say.
Blank on the other hand gave a more definitive answer.
“Brody is not MacGyver. I always say he can’t jump through the window of the factory into river just before it explodes every week and come back the next week,” he said. “So I don’t think you are going to see Brody (this season).”
(Pictured: Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes)