Homeland executive producer Chip Johannessen has signed a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV and its cable division Fox 21 TV Studios, which produces the Showtime series. The new three-year agreement replaces the two-year overall pact Johannessen inked last year. Under that deal, Johannessen worked on Homeland‘s fifth season alongside exec producer/showrunner Alex Gansa for the first half of the season before segueing to development. He will now stay full-time on the show for the next two years.
Johannessen co-wrote the opener for the Berlin-set Season 5, which set up one of Homeland‘s best received installments, as well as Episode 6. He is slated to pen a couple of the first six episodes of Season 6, going back up to writing/co-writing 3-4 episodes a season as he had done in Seasons 1-4.
Johannessen was quick to point out that who writes a particular episode of Homeland is “almost secondary” as “we all work on all of them together.”
The writing staff on Homeland — one of the strongest ever assembled with multiple showrunner-level writers — has been a close-knit group that has remained almost intact since the beginning, with the exception of the recent departure of executive producer Alex Cary and the passing of Henry Bromell. Exec producer Meredith Stiehm, who previously left after the second season and came back for Seasons 4 and 5, has left again, with Generation Kill co-writer Even Wright joining the writer ranks. It’s the only change in the writers room this year.
Working with “the same gang” who all have become friends has been a major draw for Johannessen to stay. “The cast is the best cast in television as far as I’m concerned, and my friends are there,” he said. “As a place of work I really like it, and I want to be there with that group.” The writers are currently breaking the stories for the upcoming sixth season but Johannessen would not divulge details beyond the previously announced New York setting.
The new pact also includes a development component later on for both broadcast (through 20th TV) and cable/digital (through Fox 21).
“For me Fox has always been the cool studio that takes chances on material and writers, and I’m happy to have it as my home for the next few years,” Johannessen said.
Johannessen, who was an executive producer on Fox’s 24 alongside Homeland co-creators/exec producers Howard Gordon and Gansa, served as showrunner of Showtime’s flagship drama Dexter before segueing to Homeland.
“Chip is a hugely gifted writer who has quite simply been part of the fabric of Homeland since the series began,” said Fox 21 president Bert Salke. “He, Alex and Howard have an almost familial and long-standing relationship, and they complement each other beautifully. There aren’t a lot of writers smarter than Chip, and we’re happy that this deal keeps him on what we believe is one of the finest series on television. We also look forward to developing with him down the road.“
Johannessen is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Steve Younger.