'State of Affairs' Panel: 5 Things to Know About Katherine Heigl's New Thriller
'State of Affairs' Panel: 5 Things to Know About Katherine Heigl's New Thriller
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
State of Affairs is a new NBC show set in the White House and stars Katherine Heigl as Charleston Tucker, a high level CIA analyst, who briefs the President daily about the crucial issues facing the nation. She's forced to make important decisions about what information the President needs to know and what to keep quiet.

Stars Heigl, Alfre Woodard (President Constance Payton) and Executive Producers  Ed Bernero, Joe Carnahan, Rodney Faraon, Nancy Heigl, and Bob Simonds were on stage at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour to discuss their new fall thriller.

Heigl's Interest in Role

Heigl: I think that was what was so compelling to me is that this is an actual job, and I had never realized that. I'm not sure why, but a lot of people have asked me, "Does this really happen?  Does the President have a briefer?" And I thought the opportunity to delve into that and show this side of the CIA was really compelling, and to play such an intelligent woman who is a real patriot, who really believes that she can make a difference and help protect her country and help her President do her job.

Introducing a Black Female President

Woodward:  I think the gorilla in the room is we all know that the world will not spin off its axis if there's an African American as President. So the gorilla in the room is that I'm a woman. And, hopefully, everybody will get accustomed to saying "Madam President" in their homes, and so we won't freak out when there is a Madam President.

Exploring the President's Personal Life

Bernero: What we're actually going to play is trying to have a loving relationship when one member of the family is the President. ... It's how do you maintain a loving relationship when all day you're saving the world, and then you come home, and you just want to have some meatloaf.  

Carnahan: Yeah, which you will see, and what we will do is the domesticity of the President -- which you don't get into is the real what that's like and what it's like to be married and a husband and a wife in an incredibly kind of stressful--  they're the most powerful person in the world. 

Fiction Based in Reality

Faraon: This is a work of fiction, but at the same time, I think the spirit of everything that we do here is authentic. ... One of the worst things you can do as a professional CIA analyst with the awesome responsibility of briefing the President of the United States is to go in there halfcocked with just three words to say that this is what happened. Well, we need to know why and how and what's the future trajectory of it. So certainly it's all going to be somewhat heightened in terms of the reality, but also I think we've got the spirit of the authenticity down right. 

Daily Briefing Each Week

Bernero: What we're hoping to do is every episode will have a brief story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end in it. But a large part of the show will also be exploring the lives of these people and how the briefings affect them, but also how their past affects them, and there's a number of mysteries that we have, and everyone on the show has a secret. 

State of Affairs premieres Monday, November 17 at 10pm ET on NBC.

(Image courtesy of NBC.)