Yes, Mandy Patinkin saw "Saturday Night Live" spoof "Homeland" in a sketch this month. And no, the South Side native and Kenwood Academy High School alum wasn't insulted by Bill Hader's impression of him or the exaggerated impersonations of his "Homeland" co-stars. Patinkin, like much of the public, thought the sketch was funny.
"('Homeland' co-creator) Alex Gansa told me about it and said I have to watch it," Patinkin said over the phone Nov. 16 while driving in Los Angeles. "I just loved it. It's quite a thrill and honor to have them make fun of us. I just want to have a scene with (Hader). Maybe I could play his father."
The sketch was the second time "Saturday Night Live" referenced "Homeland" this month and further proof of the Showtime series' popularity — not that that was ever in question. Ratings for the season premiere of "Homeland" in September were up 60 percent over last year's series premiere. Of course, it helped that the terrorism thriller won the Emmy for outstanding drama series a week before and that stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis won Emmys for lead actress and lead actor.
(Danes, you may recall, referenced Patinkin in her acceptance speech. Asked if Danes said "Mandy Patinkin, holla" or "Mandy Patinkin, challah," the 59-year-old Jewish actor said only: "I think that wasn't for me to explain, but to receive. I interpreted it as a personal hug.")
Patinkin — who sings in concerts and musicals in addition to acting and will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with opera singer Nathan Gunn at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston — said he knew "Homeland" stood out from the moment he read the first script.
"I read the pilot and loved it," Patinkin said. "When we did the first episode, we knew we were involved in something special. Everybody's attitude was, 'Who knows if people will embrace it? Let's just enjoy it while we can.' To have it embraced by everybody, we felt like (you do) when you bring the love of your life to meet your family and (your family) feels the same way you do."
And yet, as much as he enjoys acting on the show and in film (he famously played Inigo Montoya in 1987's "The Princess Bride"), it's singing that truly is the love of his life. Patinkin, who has lived in New York since 1972 but insisted he still considers himself a Chicagoan, has released several albums and estimated he performs 25 to 40 shows a year. He took the stage with Gunn at Ravinia last year and said he only wishes they had time to perform their musicals-meet-opera programs more often.
"If you told me I could only do one thing, I would choose live concerts," Patinkin said. "There's something about singing that I just love. It makes me feel freer than anything in the world. I get to be the mailman for songs written by Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Randy Newman. It's a way to have a good time and be silly."
Been there, done that: Evanston-raised screenwriter Patrick Melton and Macomb native Marcus Dunstan feel some pressure writing the script for "God of War" — the long-awaited film adaptation of the popular video game franchise — but nothing like what they felt taking over writing duties on the "Saw" franchise after the third film in the horror series. "The 'Saw' movies were huge and had a lot of fans," Melton said over the phone from Los Angeles last week while promoting the duo's horror sequel "The Collection," in theaters Friday. "They were in motion, and it was like, 'OK, don't (mess) this up'-type pressure. 'God of War' is a very established video game property but hasn't made that transition to film, so the pressure hasn't quite been established in the movie world." Whether the movie is a success, Melton said, "will have (a lot) to do with who the director is and who plays Kratos."
About this week: Former "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks will appear Saturday at Carson Pirie Scott in North Riverside Park Mall in North Riverside to promote her new fragrance, Ambition. … Lo Down Loretta Brown (better known as R&B singer Erykah Badu) will DJ Friday at The Mid. … The Bears' Robbie Gould will join ESPN 1000's Jeff Dickerson for a live broadcast Tuesday from O'Donovan's bar.
Sightings: Comedian and "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey visited Kings Lanes, Lounge & Sports in Rosemont Nov. 16 and 17 while in town to perform at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont. … Former NFL Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb was spotted Nov. 17 at Hub 51. … Former White Sox player Jose Contreras had lunch with his family Nov. 19 at Foodease Market in Water Tower Place mall.
For more celebrity news and sightings, go to chicagotribune.com/luis