- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The actors take their places, the crew falls silent, and director Omar Madha calls out the magic word: “Action!”

The tent flaps swing open, Revolutionary War generals Henry Knox and Robert Lawson step out, and the two men shake hands.

“Henry, you can count on the Virginia militia,” Lawson says. “Remember that.”

Then Lawson strides off - but not before shooting a withering glance at Benedict Arnold standing nearby, whose complex career and fate hang in the balance in “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” the AMC television series about Revolutionary War-era spycraft and intrigue now shooting its third season in Richmond and various central Virginia locations.

“Cut!” shouts Madha, bringing his first run-through rehearsal to a close, and immediately Gov. Terry McAuliffe, playing Gen. Lawson, shoots a winning smile at director, crew and a gaggle of spectators gathered to watch him shoot his Episode 7 cameo.

“How was that?” he shouts. “One-take Terry!”

It’s only one line, but McAuliffe, dressed in full uniform, as well as wig and tricorn hat, nails it every time, both in rehearsal and in filmed takes with Knox, played by Brit Whittle, and Arnold, played by Owain Yeoman.

Details about the “TURN” storyline leading up to the governor’s appearance as Lawson cannot be revealed until the series returns to the air April 25.

But “TURN” producers engineered McAuliffe’s star turn on the show, scheduled to air June 6, more than a month ago to thank the governor for the support he has shown the series through both financial incentives and good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. The series concludes area filming for its new season Feb. 26.

“He’s been so great to us and so gracious,” said “TURN” co-executive producer Henry Bronchtein. “He’s been a big supporter of the show and a big fan, and we thought it would be nice if we could get him in the show to thank him.”

“I’ve watched ‘TURN’ from the start, I’m a huge history buff, and I read every book I can on the Revolutionary War,” said the governor, who received his general’s uniform from “TURN’s” wardrobe department Jan. 21 at his downtown office and promptly walked up and down the halls in full costume.

“As long as I had it on, I figured I might as well show everyone in the office,” McAuliffe said.

“I felt like it was the 1700s,” joked Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “We were going to tell him that he looked like George Washington, but we were afraid that might make his head too big.”

No stranger to film sets, the governor has appeared in several other films over the years, including “The Adjustment Bureau” with actor Matt Damon. McAuliffe has even earned his own Screen Actors Guild card, a sought-after credential among film actors seeking speaking roles.

But McAuliffe looks upon his “TURN” appearance as just part of his job as governor of Virginia.

“I’m a huge advocate of our film industry here, and it’s a huge economic impact, with direct spending of about $25 million a year,” said the governor, who met with AMC executives before shooting his scene to push for a fourth “TURN” season and the return of cast and crew to Richmond.

“I always talk about diversifying the economy, and this is one area where we can do it,” he said. “I think it’s important not just to talk about it.”

The governor, who arrived at “TURN’s” Richmond studio before 6 in the morning for wardrobe, hair and makeup, quickly made friends with “TURN” producers and crew as they prepared the outdoor scene at a Continental Army encampment.

Then cameras rolled for real, and director Madha got everything he needed from his actors in only eight takes.

The governor added more variety and depth to his line reading each time and even improvised a stinging - and salty - face-to-face rebuke for Arnold in a final take intended for the show’s “blooper” reel.

Asked whether he had taken time to prepare the serious line he delivered to Gen. Knox, the governor just laughed.

“One sentence I can handle,” he said. “No teleprompters needed!”

___

Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com

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