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Ben Affleck Almost Directed 'Homeland' Pilot

Ben Affleck Jeremy Renner Artios Awards - H 2012
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Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner at Artios Awards

At Artios Awards, star reveals deal with wife Jennifer Garner that made him pass: "I was sure nothing would happen with the show."

When Ben Affleck received the Career Achievement Award from Jeremy Renner at the Casting Society of America’s annual Artios Awards on Oct. 29 at the Beverly Hilton, he told a story about agreeing to direct the pilot of Homeland, then having to pass.

He said he and wife Jennifer Garner have a deal where they make family compromises on accepting work. She had an opportunity to do a film; he’d have to be in North Carolina to do Homeland; it was his turn to be with the kids, so he dropped out from directing what became a major hit and Emmy winner for Showtime.

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“I was sure nothing would happen with the show,” said Affleck, getting a laugh from the crowd. “Now I hate the f----g show. I’ve never seen it. I’m going to attach myself to 14 pilots this year.”

What prompted Affleck to tell the story was Libby Goldstein, who had worked on casting Homeland, reading a really clever poem that told the story of how having Affleck attached to the project brought in great talent. A sample couplet was: “Ben? Everyone said/He’s directing the show? Well here is my 'A' list/This thing's gonna go.” It got the night's biggest response from the crowd. (The entire poem follows the list of winners.)

STORY: 2012 Casting Society Awards: How 'Argo' Got Just the Right Actors
       
Affleck’s speech came toward the end of the dinner emceed by Nicole Sullivan with presentations in 23 categories by Anna Kendrick, Armie Hammer, Jean Smart, Nat Faxon, Atticus Shaffer, Michael Hoffman and Cedric the Entertainer. Special presentations were made to Lora Kennedy, who received the Hoyt Bowers Award, and Harvey Fierstein, who was given the New York Apple Award. (The CSA usually has its award dinner on the same night in both L.A. and New York, but Hurricane Sandy prevented that from happening.)

2012 Artios Award nominations and winners (in bold) for Outstanding Achievement in Casting:

Big Budget Feature – Drama
The Descendants,” John Jackson, John McAlary (Associate), Andy Henry (Associate), Yesi Ramirez (Associate)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Laray Mayfield
The Help,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
The Hunger Games,” Debra Zane, Jackie Burch (Location Casting)
Moneyball,” Francine Maisler, Lauren Grey (Associate)

Big Budget Feature – Comedy
21 Jump Street,” Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera, Elizabeth Coulon, (Location Casting), Yesi Ramirez
Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
The Muppets,” Marcia Ross, Gail Goldberg, Brittainy Roberts (Associate)
The Rum Diary,” Denise Chamian, Angela Demo (Associate)

Feature – Studio or Independent – Drama
Drive,” Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
The Ides of March,” Ellen Chenoweth, Amelia McCarthy (Associate)
Margin Call,” Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield
My Week With Marilyn,” Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Nina Gold (Location Casting)
Shame,” Avy Kaufman

Feature – Studio or Independent  – Comedy
50/50,” Francine Maisler
The Artist,” Heidi Levitt, Michael Sanford (Associate)
Friends With Kids,” Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, David Vaccari
The Guard,” Jina Jay
Hysteria,” Gaby Kester

Low Budget Feature – Comedy or Drama
A Bag of Hammers,” Brad Gilmore
Higher Ground,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
Like Crazy,” Eyde Belasco
Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Susan Shopmaker
Pariah,” Eyde Belasco

Animation Feature
The Adventures of Tintin,” Jina Jay
Cars 2,” Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
Happy Feet Two,” Kristy Carlson

Daytime Drama Series
Days of Our Lives,” Marnie Saitta
General Hospital,” Mark Teschner
The Young and the Restless,” Judy Blye Wilson

Television Pilot Drama
A Gifted Man,” Bernard Telsey, Risa Bramon Garcia, David Vaccari, Patrick Goodwin (Associate)
Homeland,” Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Julie Tucker, Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting), Craig Fincannon (Location Casting)
Once Upon a Time, Veronica Collins Rooney, Corinne Clark (Location Casting), Jennifer Page (Location Casting)
Revenge,” Elizabeth Barnes, Corbin Bronson, Craig Fincannon (Location Casting), Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting), Erica Berger (Associate)
Smash,” Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield

Television Pilot Comedy
2 Broke Girls,” Julie Ashton-Barson
Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Lisa Miller Katz
Girls,” Jennifer Euston
House of Lies,” Felicia Fasano, Erica Silverman (Associate)
New Girl,” Juel Bestrop, Seth Yanklewitz
Up All Night,” Shani Ginsberg, Jeff Greenberg, Allen Hooper (Associate)

Television Series Drama
Breaking Bad,” Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Rody Kent (Location Casting), Russell Scott (Associate)
Game of Thrones,” Nina Gold
The Good Wife,” Mark Saks, John Andrews (Associate)
Homeland,” Judy Henderson, Craig Fincannon (Location Casting), Lisa Mae Fincannon (Location Casting)

Mad Men,” Laura Schiff, Carrie Audino, Kendra Shay Clark (Associate)

Television Series Comedy
The Big C,” Bernard Telsey, Abbie Brady-Dalton (Associate)
Girls,” Jennifer Euston
Modern Family,” Jeff Greenberg, Allen Hooper (Associate)
New Girl,” Anya Colloff, Michael Nicolo
Nurse Jackie,” Julie Tucker, Ross Meyerson

Television Movie or Mini Series
American Horror Story,” Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Eric Souliere (Associate)
Birdsong,” Jina Jay
Five,” Randi Hiller, Tamara-Lee Notcutt
Game Change,” David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran (Location Casting), Kathleen Chopin (Location Casting), Anne Davison (Associate)
Hatfields & McCoys, Fern Champion, Amy Hubbard (Location Casting)

Children’s Series
A.N.T. FARM,” Brandi Brice Pollock, Dana Gergely Bowling
iCarly,” Krisha Bullock, Jennifer K.M. Treadwell (Associate)
Shake It Up!,” Howard Meltzer, Suzanne Goddard-Smythe
Victorious,” Krisha Bullock, Jennifer K.M. Treadwell (Associate)
Wizards of Waverly Place,” Ruth Lambert, Robert McGee

Television Animation
The Cleveland Show,” Robert McGee, Ruth Lambert
Family Guy,” Linda Lamontagne
Kung Fu Panda,” Meredith Layne
The Penguins of Madagascar,” Sarah Noonan, Meredith Layne
Robot Chicken,” Ivy Isenberg

New York Broadway Theatre – Drama
A Streetcar Named Desire,” Will Cantler, Bernard Telsey
The Columnist,” David Caparelliotis
Death of a Salesman,” Mele Nagler
The Mountaintop,” Jim Carnahan
Wit,” Nancy Piccione

New York Broadway Theatre – Comedy
The Best Man,” Will Cantler, Bernard Telsey
Harvey,” Jim Carnahan, *
One Man, Two Guvnors,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman
Peter and the Starcatcher,” Jim Carnahan, Tara Rubin
Venus in Fur,” Nancy Piccione, James Calleri

New York Broadway Theatre – Musical
Evita,” Bernard Telsey, Craig Burns
Newsies,” Justin Huff
Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Jay Binder, Jack Bowdan
Once,” Jim Carnahan
Porgy and Bess,” Bernard Telsey, Justin Huff

New York Theatre – Comedy or Musical
A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” James Calleri, Paul Davis
All New People,” David Caparelliotis
The Cherry Orchard,” James Calleri
Close Up Space,” Nancy Piccione
Sons of the Prophet,” Carrie Gardner

New York Theatre – Drama
Dreams of Flying, Dreams of Falling,” Will Cantler
Happy Hour,” Will Cantler
How I Learned To Drive,” Mele Nagler
The Submission,” Bernard Telsey, Will Cantler
Tribes,” Pat McCorkle

Regional Theatre East
A Doll’s House,” James Calleri
A Streetcar Named Desire,” James Calleri
It Shoulda Been You,” Jay Binder, Mark Brandon
The Realistic Joneses,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman
The Winter’s Tale,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman

Regional Theatre West
A Room With a View,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman, Dale Brown (Associate)
Aladdin,” Tara Rubin, Eric Woodall, Merri Sugarman, Dale Brown (Associate)
Hands On A Hardbody,” Rachel Hoffman
The Rocky Horror Show,” Carrie Gardner
The Whale,” Elissa Myers, Paul Fouquet

Los Angeles Theatre
Art,” Jeff Greenberg
“Cabaret,” Amy Lieberman
Jitney,” Joanne DeNaut
Our Town,” Pat McCorkle
The Heiress,” Michael Donovan

And here is the poem Goldstein read about Affleck and Homeland:

When we met for the job
We asked who was going to direct
And both Howard and Alex answered
Who else? Ben Affleck.

Ben? We both said
Could it be? Is it true?
Uh huh, Alex said –
Oh wow – what a coup.

So we put out the word
Kinda casual and cool
And got all of you guys
To submit like a fool.

Ben? Everyone said
He’s directing the show?
Well here is my “A” list
This thing's gonna go.

And week after week we said
Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben
Then one fine day
We heard something about … Jen!

She had gotten a film
Or some sort of thing
And she wanted him home
Well, she does have the ring!

Or maybe it was Argo
that put an end to our plan
Whatever it was
It ended bing, bang, boom, bam!

But, by then no matter,
The die had been cast
Just the fact that Ben might have
Was all we could ask

So here’s some advice
When you all get a show
Just say Ben is directing,
Who’ll ever know?

And right before you have to,
Say, “it’s something about Jen”
The stamp of approval will already
Have been gotten from Ben.

And whose laughing now?
Michael Cuesta for sure
The backup to Ben
Who's got kudos galore

So – a toast to Ben
For all that he did
And the whole thing was free
Take that, WME!!!!

And by the way – thank you all for this.