* Fourth series due to premiere this fall
* Background characters to step to the fore
* Emmy nominations will measure success of season three
By Dan Williams
TEL AVIV, July 6 (Reuters) - "Homeland" may have lost its sleeper terrorist anti-hero Nicholas Brody to an Iranian gallows, but the hit U.S. television show will continue to thrill, its creator says.
Howard Gordon described surviving cast members, led by the gutsy yet emotionally troubled CIA analyst Carrie Mathison, as having plenty of dramatic mileage in the fourth season due to premiere in the fall on premium cable channel Showtime.
"Fortunately Carrie is still a very robust character, (as are fellow CIA spies) Saul and Quinn. And there are tertiary characters who are now stepping more to the fore," he told Reuters during a visit to Israel, where he was overseeing his new production, "Tyrant", an Arab Spring drama.
Shot in Cape Town, South Africa, the fourth season of "Homeland" finds Carrie "on assignment, doing what she does. She is a person who is trying to stop terrorists doing bad things," Gordon said, without divulging further details of the plot.
She is still tackling Islamic militants, he said, "but it is more complicated than that. I would say that the bugaboos in 'Homeland' this year have to do as much with the American bureaucracy as with the ostensible enemy."
"Homeland" won sweeping acclaim for its portrayal of the anguished relationship between Mathison and Brody, a U.S. Marine ex-prisoner of war and secret al Qaeda recruit, played by Damian Lewis. After their torrid love affair, Brody carries out an assassination for the CIA in Iran, where he was executed at the end of season three.
That season was able to regain its standing with critics, after many derided the improbable plot twists of the second.
But how far the series has rebounded will also be measured this week in the number of top-tier Emmy nominations the show can earn. Season two won only two last year - for Claire Danes as best drama actress in her portrayal of Carrie, and for drama writing.
Emmy award nominations will be announced on Thursday.
Further fuelling the suspense of past "Homeland" seasons was how the CIA handled the discovery of psychiatric problems that Carrie had tried to conceal, as well as her surprise pregnancy.
In the next season, Gordon said, "Carrie has Brody's baby and her illness informs her maternity." (Writing by Dan Williams; additional reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles; Editing by Michael Roddy and Mark Trevelyan)