'Homeland' secrets slow in coming out

Because it's a show about espionage, you probably should be expecting a twist, anyway.

So fans of Showtime cable network's "Homeland," which is filmed in Charlotte, need to factor a mystery into their calculations about where the drama is headed.

Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland" is about a Marine sergeant who was held as a POW for years by al-Qaida. He returns to a hero's welcome in the United States, but a CIA officer thinks he's a double agent, sent back on a terrorist mission.

Lewis plays the Marine, named Nicholas Brody, and Danes the intelligence agent. In the episodes aired so far, the question is whether Brody is actually up to something or just behaving suspiciously for other reasons.

In an interview with the Observer last month, executive producer Alex Gansa said that if the show were picked up for an additional season, the cast might not change. "We may not be done with Brody," he said, meaning the mystery of his loyalties may not be revealed, or perhaps his character continues in another way.

"Are you actually a terrorist before you commit?" Gansa asked rhetorically. He isn't giving away any secrets.

One mystery was cleared up this week: Showtime announced there would be a second season of the critically acclaimed show. It will continue to be filmed in Charlotte, beginning next spring.

Charlotte was chosen as the site of filming because of low costs, tax breaks and its resemblance to suburban Washington, D.C., where the series is set. A house near SouthPark mall is used as Brody's home. "Homeland" crews have also filmed in Mooresville, Lake Norman and the old Philip Morris cigarette plant in Concord.

Gansa said he wanted to film in Charlotte because it had an urban feel to it, and knew that skilled crews were available from Wilmington's cinema colony where he worked as a producer on "Dawson's Creek." Gansa has also worked on Fox's "The X-Files" and "24."

Ratings have been strong. "Homeland" is Showtime's highest-rated first-year drama in the network's history, drawing 4.4 million viewers for the debut.

Media Movers

After seven years, WBTV (Channel 3) reporter Tom Roussey will be leaving in December for a job at the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. A 2007 investigation Roussey did on how easy it is to get a drivers' license fraudulently led to a change in N.C. licensing requirements. ... Midday talent Robin Marshall departs WKQC-FM ("K" 104.7). She will continue her commercial voiceover business, modeling career and other projects. ...

Joe and Terry Graedon, hosts of the syndicated "People's Pharmacy" on WFAE-FM (90.7), will be in town Nov. 10 for a special "Charlotte Talks" taping at the McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square as part of the station's 30th anniversary celebration. ... "Says You," a Saturday afternoon public radio quiz show hosted by Richard Sher and carried by WFAE, will originate at CPCC's Pease Auditorium for two shows Jan 8 and 9. ...

Jerry Klein, Creative Loafing columnist and a host in the '90s at WBT-AM (1110), now at a talk station in Washington, was operated on for esophageal cancer this month when doctors found he also had liver disease. He is recovering now as his physicians work on a new treatment plan. In a Facebook message, he thanked supporters for their well-wishes: "From the bottom of my heart - the one organ at the moment that I'm pretty sure is OK." ...

Monroe's WIXE-AM ("Mighty" 1190) has been given regulatory approval to increase its power up to five-fold. Station president Archie Morgan says WIXE has 18 months to decide just how high it wants to crank the transmitter switch. ... Tom Warlick accepted the award this month from the N.C. Society of Historians on behalf of the WBT Briarhoppers, the eight-decade-old bluegrass band organized by the station in 1934 to provide entertainment. They were honored for their multimedia web site and "preserving the old-time radio experience for today's audience." ...

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul and his family, including his aunt Rhonda from Charlotte, will appear on "Family Feud" 10 a.m. Tuesday, WMYT (Channel 55).