As the executive producer of Showtime’s Emmy-winning “Homeland,” Alex Gansa has a more formal office on the Fox lot. But when it comes to getting the real work of his job done, he heads to the hideaway tucked behind his house in the Pacific Palisades. It’s in this bright, airy loft where he hunkers down for three hours every morning and night to write the series’ page-turning scripts. “The Internet is terrible up here, so I’m really isolated with the page and with my books,” he says. “It’s been such a sanctuary.”
EVIL DOES IT
Through its five-season run to date, “Homeland” has a notorious lineup of villains who’ve driven the plot. When Shaun Toub, who played Javadi was being honored by an Iranian acting society, Gansa created a video presentation in his honor — hoping it might further his campaign for an Emmy guest actor nod, which he didn’t receive. “As a consolation prize, we inducted him into the Homeland Villains Hall of Fame,” he says,” which at the time included Abu Nazir, William Walden, Tom Walker, and the villain of all villainesses, Dana Brody.”
When Gansa first came to L.A. along with his friend Howard Gordon (and “Homeland” executive producer), the duo started an SAT preparation company to make ends meet. As luck would have it, one of their first students was Tori Wilder, whose father, John, was a producer on “St. Elsewhere.” A week later, they found themselves pitching him spec scripts. A framed letter from him inviting the two men to come in for a meeting — Gansa calls it a “prized possession” — sits on the shelf behind his desk. “Everybody has their own unique way of getting into the business, and this was ours,” says Gansa.
Back in 1998, Gansa created a show called “Maximum Bob” that he had a “short but glorious” run on ABC, starring Beau Bridges as a judge who handed out outrageous sentences. “We wanted to give him a prop that represented his extreme views, so we chose a burdizzo emasculator that was used to castrate sheep,” he recalls. Now the prop serves another function: helping him remain calm during notes calls. “I’m trying to be as diplomatic as I can possibly on the phone, but I’m squeezing this thing in my hands as a way of relieving my stress.”