TV pilot will turn Charlotte into 'Homeland'

TV pilot will turn Charlotte into 'Homeland'

Credit: Charlotte Observer

Film giant 20th Century Fox is shooting a pilot episode of a TV show, "Homeland," for Showtime and they're filming much of it in south Charlotte's Mountainbrook neighborhood.

Print
Email
|

by Caroline McMillan / Charlotte Observer

Caroline McMillan / Charlotte Observer

Posted on January 19, 2011 at 12:01 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hollywood has come to town, and south Charlotte's Mountainbrook neighborhood is front and center.

Film giant 20th Century Fox is shooting a pilot episode of a TV show, "Homeland," for Showtime and they're filming much of it in Charlotte.

The show is about U.S. Marine Sgt. Scott Brody (played by British actor Damian Lewis) who spent eight years as a prisoner of war in Baghdad and was presumed dead. Recently rescued, Brody has returned to his wife and kids and is lauded as a hero.

But CIA agent Carrie Anderson (played by Emmy award-winning actress Claire Danes) suspects that he's plotting an attack on America.

"The questions is, 'Is he the hero he appears to be?' " said producer Michael Click, who used to work with Fox's hit action drama "24." "It's a little bit of a whodunit."

Click said he thinks viewers will tune in because of the modern issues it delves into.

"It has a lot of timely aspects to it, in terms of fears of terrorism, prisoners of war, internal threats to the government," said Click. "There are a lot of threats explored in a family-drama situation."

When deciding where to film, Fox chose North Carolina because the state offered tax breaks. They picked Charlotte and the South Park area, in particular, because the homes' architecture resembles that of suburban Virginia, where the show is set.

Charlotte's uptown area could resemble Washington, D.C.

"It was a good match," said Click. "It's a very nice downtown - modern, a lot of good looks to it. It doesn't have the broad boulevards that D.C. has but it will make a good double. There are a number of governmental buildings we could use in terms of walk-and-talk conversations. And if you need to go to Washington, it's a two-hour flight up the road."

Two homes in Mountainbrook, one on Knob Hill Court and the other on Mountainbrook Road, are the primary domestic settings in the pilot.

Fox approached the president of the Mountainbrook Civic Association, Mike Anderson, in December to discuss the project.

Anderson then met with location manager Karl Golden to do a walk-through of where filming would be and to discuss how to make it non-disruptive for residents.

"We're very pleased to have something going on and they've been very considerate for our residents," said Anderson.

Fox did casting calls in the Charlotte area to pick extras and stand-ins.

"We have a couple of aspiring actors in the community who said, 'I wish you'd told me that!' because they missed the auditions," said Anderson.

The show's director, script-writers and producers have, between them, worked with successful Fox thrillers including "24" and "The X-Files," as well as Showtime's "Dexter."

The crew started filming in Mountainbrook last week but postponed production for a couple of days due to the winter storm. They will be filming in North Carolina through the end of January. In a flier Fox sent to most Mountainbrook residents, Golden welcomed neighborhood residents to watch the filming as long as they stayed out of the cameras' line of vision.

Law enforcement officers and members of the film crew are handling the traffic and crowd control near the neighborhood's entrance.

Resident Jim Adams and his wife, Dorothy, live on Knob Hill Court directly across the street from where Brody and his family live in the show. Adams, 76, let the film crew set up shop in his driveway. He said it's fascinating watching the crew film the same scenes over and over again, tweaking them slightly.

Last week, they filmed the scene with the Brody's homecoming to much fanfare. Adams said the crew brought in about 150 extras who were clapping and holding "Support Our Troops" signs. He said they'd film it once and then move all 150 people and do it again.

"They had a lot to do; they do a heck of a job," said Adams. "(My wife and I) were enthusiastic about doing everything we could to cooperate. It was kind of interesting to look and see what they were doing. It doesn't happen every day, not by any means."

Adams also saw them make more "snow" to blanket the ground.

"As if we didn't have enough!" Adams said. "It's fun to watch and see what they were doing."

Fox is also renting space to film at the old Phillip Morris plant in Concord and at an empty Clarian plant which used to make textile dye.

Once they've finished filming and editing the pilot, Fox will show it to the executives at Showtime.

"They decide if they want to produce the show," said Click.

Click said the network would probably make their decision in mid-March.

If they order a series, pre-production would start in April and the crew would likely film June to October. The first episodes would begin airing on Showtime around the end of August, while they're still in production.

Charlotte would continue to be the prime location for filming.

"It's got a good script, good cast, good director, good location," said Click.

"We're excited to have something like this going on in our community," said Anderson.

Production assistant Brad Thompson, who attended Providence High School, said Fox's filming "Homeland" in Charlotte is quite a coup for the community.

"I don't know of the last time - if ever - that a Showtime or HBO show was filmed here," said Thompson. "It could bring more of this business here."

Print
Email
|