Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front and behind the camera.
On this week’s episode, “Homeland” executive producer/director Lesli Linka Glatter (who helmed the final hour) and series star Mandy Patinkin preview the season finale, as well as offer behind-the-scenes intelligence about the making of the Showtime drama.
In the first half of the podcast, Glatter discussed the decision to set the show in the United States for the first time, and the impact that had on their storytelling.
“I think it was time to bring the show back to America, and what an appropriate time with the election of a new president,” says Glatter. “I think it’s important to look at being in New York City, where the attack of 9/11 happened … and looking at the reaction and the overreaction to that. Because we now have a $120 billion a year budget for counterterrorism. And in reality, there have been 95 deaths from terrorism since 9/11 and 35,000 deaths a year from gun violence. Is that an overreaction? Obviously we want to be vigilant. No one wants to have another terror attack. But let’s look at both sides of that issue.”
The show has always been eerily prescient about the storylines it explores, and this season has been even more so, with its ongoing plot about the incoming president challenging the intelligence community. The creative team always takes a trip to Washington, D.C., ahead of setting up its writers’ room to gather ideas, and this time out, they learned about the battles between “the permanent government” — the NSA, the CIA, etc. — and the “temporary government” — the elected officials. “That was kind of shocking to hear that,” says Glatter. “That was something that we end up exploring. … We’ve always looked at the CIA from both sides. Yes, they’re incredibly patriotic, and yet there are questionable things that they do.”
But Glatter was mum on whether President-elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) would make it to the White House. “You don’t want to know,” she said with a laugh. But she did allow that in the finale, “There will be a lot of questions answered.”
In the second half of the podcast, Patinkin — who stars as Saul Berenson — weighs in with his take on the season.
“I do think we’re in an unusual place to mirror not even a poetic version as I used to say,” he reveals. “Reality is so strange right now and almost distorted. That to present what’s happening around us in the simplest form possible is terrifying enough.”
|Mandy Patinkin photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety
As impassioned as ever about the current state of politics, Patinkin says the show — and all artists — have a duty to weigh in.
“The arts have an incredibly important place at this particular moment to become a place of reflection, to present facts as opposed to distorted ideology,” he says. “I look forward and count on everyone in the artistic community from authors, book writers, screenplay writers, film, television, music, visual arts, sculpture to comment on this fragile moment in our development.”
Patinkin, along with the rest of the creative team, is about to go to Washington for their annual trip to plan the next season, which he considers a tremendous honor. “It’s a stunning thing to be a part of, more than I ever imagined or dreamed of,” he says. “You don’t imagine you’ll be participating in a world discussion of literally the most important issues facing humanity everywhere.
He, too, wouldn’t reveal much about the finale or Keane’s fate. “I’m assuming they’re listening,” he jokes.
But he did say that he’s a fan of the character he plays. “I like him more than I like myself,” he says. “He’s calmer, he listens better than I do, and I believe he’s smarter than myself. He listened to his wife, who said, ‘Since when do you ever care about being humiliated. When did that ever matter to you?'”
You can listen to this week’s episode here:
New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday.