Get your Richmond landmark bingo cards ready. The premiere of season seven for the Showtime spy drama, "Homeland," arrives on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 9 p.m.
The crew was filming for eight months around Richmond, Petersburg and South Hill, so this season is likely to draw more local viewers, some with drinks in hand, to spot familiar locations from the north side to the Fan and The Jefferson Hotel.
Andy Edmunds, director of the Virginia Film Office, says that while there hasn't been an official audit, the estimated direct spending in the state is "north of $40 million," which represents the biggest single expenditure in Virginia's history. Using a formula, they estimate the total economic impact at $82 million.
"It's bigger than 'John Adams,' or any other project in terms of production spending," Edmunds says. "This one was different because it was all over the city, very complex. But everyone's been super cooperative."
The show continues in a growing line of locally shot, longer television productions including AMC's "Turn" and PBS's "Mercy Street." About 40 percent of the crew was Virginia residents, not including extras, according to the film office.
The incentive amount for the show will not be calculated until after the audit. The show is eligible for a Virginia film tax credit and grant, the exact amount to be based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased and deliverables including tourism promotion, according to Margaret Finucane, communications manager with the Virginia Film Office.
Instead of creating a Virginia tourism commercial — because Showtime has no commercials — as part of its deal, "Homeland" makers created a behind-the-scenes video segment that Edmunds says will be shared on the Virginia tourism website.
Recently, Alex Gansa, writer and producer for "Homeland," has been touting Richmond in interviews as a great stand-in for Washington.
Edmunds says the main value is in building relationships.
"So now we have a relationship with Fox. ["Homeland"] is produced by Fox 21 and Showtime is owned by CBS, which is owned by Viacom, and Fox is just partnering with Disney," he says with a laugh. "So there are all these different companies that we've now had the opportunity to showcase RVA."
As far as other opportunities? Edmunds says that he took co-star Mandy "Princess Bride" Patinkin to a Dave Matthews concert after the Charlottesville tragedy.
"He enjoyed that very much, quite a music fan," he adds. "He and Claire Danes embraced the city, enjoyed all the restaurants as we all do. … The [cast and crew] are like super tourists with a payroll. They were envious that we could get around so easily without being stuck in traffic."