11:14am PT by Michael O'Connell
'Homeland' Near Renewal for Seasons 7 and 8, Won't Return Until 2017
Homeland isn't going anywhere. Showtime CEO David Nevins on Wednesday announced that the network is in final talks with Fox 21 Television Studios to renew the series for a seventh and eighth season — each of which will also include star Claire Danes and showrunner Alex Gansa.
Nevins also confirmed that Homeland won't return to the schedule until 2017, with production on the sixth season set to start later in the summer. Shy of officially confirming the inking of the deals for the big renewal, Nevins was clearly confident enough to bring up the matter. He also stressed that the news doesn't necessarily mean that the show will end with the eighth season.
"Just because I'm not thinking that far ahead doesn't mean Alex Gansa and his team aren't," said Nevins. "It's changing itself pretty dramatically each season. I think more than most, this show has an open-ended expiration date. That said, I've been focused on getting this deal done and not really asking what happens beyond this deal."
Typically in production by late spring, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the drama took an atypically long break to give showrunner and co-creator Gansa and the writing team more breathing room to prep for its upcoming sixth season. Gansa was said to be keen on taking his time to develop the story, particularly in the wake of its sustained critical resurgence, and will not hit the ground running in the wake of the writers' annual trip to Washington D.C. Homeland typically generates most of its espionage-themed plot points from meeting with government and intelligence insiders. The show also is shifting production to New York after several years of globe-hopping. Homeland's most recent two seasons saw production move from its original East Coast base of operations to Cape Town (season four) and Berlin (season five).
"The most difficult challenge of last season, and any season, is making the decision on which way to to set sail," Gansa, who also had to hire different crews after the moves to South Africa and Germany, told THR in 2015. "Those early choices that you make have such serious consequences down the line."
Outside of the location-hopping, Homeland also has adopted a slightly different format since the 2013 departure of original co-lead Damian Lewis. Each season now finds Danes' Carrie in a completely new scenario, with different characters, a model Gansa has compared to The Wire and 24. And there are more casting issues outside of the new faces required by the fluctuating format. The fifth season wrapped with one of its three leads, Rupert Friend, poised to leave the show as well — though producers have since confirmed he will still be part of the series.
It is a relatively low-risk move for Showtime and producers Fox 21 Television Studios. Homeland will be back in time for 2017 Emmy eligibility, meaning it won't skip an awards-season cycle. (The show had no presence at this year's Golden Globes, but it was nominated for five Emmys in 2015, including for best drama.)
It's also not an altogether uncommon move for a successful TV series. HBO was forgiving with both The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm's schedules when the series' respective creators felt the need to take a breather, and FX permits Louis C.K. to press pause on his critically adored comedy until he's feeling inspired.