WASHINGTON, D.C. There’s Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California hobnobbing with Claire Danes.
And over there, there’s Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour posing for a photo with Damian Lewis.
This was the scene at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on Monday night: Stars of “Homeland” working the red carpet for journalists, yukking it up with D.C. tastemakers, celebrating the forthcoming third season of the Showtime hit series that’s set in the nation’s capital – but which of course is actually produced 400 miles to the south in Charlotte.
It’s no secret to most people in Charlotte, especially fans of Emmy Award-winning dramatic television.
But during the red carpet portion of the evening, and inside the auditorium where an advance screening of Season 3’s first episode took place in front of about 150 people, there was no public mention of Charlotte. In fact, before the stars arrived, a freelancer for The Week magazine appeared surprised and bewildered upon learning that “Homeland” was not really filmed in Washington.
Production of the 20th Century Fox show resumed in Charlotte in May and will continue into November. The series, which launches into its third season on Sept. 29, is a thriller that revolves around bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Danes) and suspected terrorist Nick Brody (British actor Lewis).
In many ways, the show is about secrets. Everybody’s got one. And Monday night at the Corcoran Gallery – which is just three blocks from the White House, home to one of the show’s most famous fans – there was plenty of secrecy to match.
Morena Baccarin, who plays Brody’s wife Jessica and is currently very pregnant, was coy with the media about her due date, as she has been since announcing her news in May.
Jackson Pace, 14, who plays the Brodys’ son, skipped a question about which high school he attends in Greensboro.
Mandy Patinkin (aka Saul Berenson, Carrie’s boss) has talked frequently about his love for taking long walks in quiet woodsy areas around Charlotte, but is mum about where those areas are.
“I do it for like an hour or two every day,” says Patinkin, who moonlights as a tenor singer and spends his walks rehearsing. “But ... I don’t want people to come find me.”
The big secret of the day, though, was a field trip to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va.
“I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about it,” said executive producer Alex Gansa with a sly grin. “It was a really lively exchange. They asked us questions and we asked them questions. But we couldn’t tweet anything, couldn’t say anything. You can’t actually bring a cellphone into Langley, even if you work there.”
Fittingly, right before the lights went down for the screening of the Season 3 premiere, Gansa asked the audience – which included Danes, Lewis and Patinkin in the best seats in the house – to refrain from tweeting. (No mention of the fact that last week, the very episode the invited guests were about to see was leaked to more than 100,000 users of a file-sharing service called BitTorrent, launching an investigation by 20th Century Fox’s anti-piracy unit.)
One thing that’s not a secret? The cast’s love of Charlotte.
“Coming from New York City, it’s got a much more gentle, forgiving pace,” Danes said. “People are incredibly kind and welcoming.”
“I bring my kids over,” said Lewis, whose family lives in the U.K. “It’s a great city for the kids.”
“I don’t like being in a place that’s too much about one thing, and Los Angeles is about show business,” Patinkin said. “And Charlotte is about lives. It’s just about living in America. It feels closer to the heartland of America to me.”
Then, a secret: “I’ve got to tell you, there’s many a day where I keep thinking, ‘Should I go look for a place to buy?’ And my wife goes, ‘Can you just be there half the year right now and then come home to New York for the other half of the year?’
“But it’s calmer and quieter, and that’s what I like. And I’d tell you where I hike, but I just don’t want it in the newspaper.”
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