[03/08/11 - 12:21 AM]
Live at the Paley Festival: USA's White Collar"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:05 PM - Night three of the 28th Annual Paley Festival kicks off with an archival clip of 1968's "It Takes a Thief," featuring a dashing Robert Wagner as Alexander Mundy.

7:11 PM - Moderator David E. Kelley - yes that, David E. Kelley - introduces creator Jeff Eastin, who's brought with him tomorrow night's season finale. (Yay!) He explains that Kelley is here because Tim DeKay told him he was a fan. Eastin skeptically suggested if he's such a big fan, Tim should ask him to be their moderator and much to everyone's surprise he agreed.

8:01 PM - After the screening, Kelley returns to bring out tonight's panelists: Jeff F. King! Mark Goffman! Marsha Thomason (Diana)! Sharif Atkins (Jones)! Willie Garson (Mozzie)! Tiffani Thiessen (Elizabeth)! Tim DeKay (Peter)! Matt Bomer (Neal)! And once again, Jeff Eastin.

8:03 PM - Eastin credits "Burn Notice" creator (and apparently recent paintball match loser) Matt Nix for "White Collar's" origins. It seems he interviewed with Nix to work on "Burn Notice" and while it didn't work out, it did open the door for him to pitch producer Fox Television Studios. As for the concept itself, Eastin originally imagined a Vic Mackey-esque ex-cop who's let out of prison to help the police with a kidnapping. That was until someone told him about NBC's "Life."

8:05 PM - Kelley asks about USA's "blue sky" philosophy for its shows. "It engenders lots of conversations," Eastin says. "Matt [Nix] explained it to me the best way, which is this: 'If the sky is blue, show the blue sky.'" Adding, "USA's shows, they look very bright... FX and USA are not the same network." "White Collar" then emerged after putting the aforementioned Vic Mackey pitch through the network's "blue skies" filter.

8:08 PM - "That's your guy over there, he's a star," Eastin quoting the casting director who pointed him to Matt Bomer.

8:10 PM - Kelley praises Tim DeKay's body of work... especially the Kelley-created "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal." "Did you know he played a cross-dresser on 'The Practice?'" Kelley says. "Not just on 'The Practice,'" the actor quips.

8:12 PM - Kelley calls Eastin out on the toothlessness of show's cliffhangers - Peter had Kate, but he didn't; Mozzie got shot, but he didn't die; etc. - saying he expects the same result from this one. Eastin responds that Kate really is dead, although famed vampire author Anne Rice - who's a fan - has suggested ways to bring her back from the grave.

8:13 PM - "No," Matt says flatly when asked if Neal feels any remorse for the people he's victimized over the years. "I think he's sees them as people who were privileged. He has a little bit of a Robin Hood complex."

8:14 PM - "One of the things I've said about Neal all along is... he may want to be good but he was born bad," Eastin says about Neal. This crushes the audience.

8:16 PM - "He loves a caper," Garson says about Mozzie. "It wouldn't matter if we're doing it for the good guys or the bad guys, as long as we get to keep doing capers. It doesn't really matter. This is Mozzie's existence."

8:18 PM - Kelley says he sees a hint of attraction between Neal and Elizabeth. This causes everyone on stage - and the audience - to cringe. She says no, adding that "I love the fact that [Elizabeth and Peter's] is the one marriage on TV that actually works."

8:20 PM - Kelley asks when we'll see a Diana or Jones-centered episode. "I have a lot of fun things coming up actually," Thomason says. "One thing I can tell you: I'm going to be meeting my lady."

8:26 PM - Eastin reveals the show was originally titled "Commuted" and he even went so far as to create a mini-poster with the tagline: "He ended his sentence with a proposition."

8:30 PM - Kelley says he's asked this question all the time so he thought he'd as Matt: "What's your phone number?"

8:34 PM - Jeff F. King details the show's various production hurdles, namely how they shoot each episode in seven days rather than the broadcast standard of eight days. They're also their own worst enemy: scripts often reach their 10th ("double blue") or 11th ("double pink") revision.

8:36 PM - While Matt is generally a happy camper, his least favorite experience was the pool scene with Alex in the season one finale. "I was freezing," he protests. "Icicles were growing on my nose!" He adds they might as well have been filming the final scene in "Titanic."

8:38 PM - Garson confesses, being a "Sex and the City" alumnus, he's often the target of New York's various tour buses.

8:42 PM - "The majority of their notes, they're always pretty strange... [like] 'the scene's too bland, can you add a fruit bowl?'" Eastin says about the network's involvement. "They're very regular people," Thiessen quips.

8:45 PM - Kelley welcomes the audience to ask questions. Someone asks how the real time feedback like Twitter affects the show. Eastin likens it to the network testing process, in which prospective viewers turn a dial to decide whether they like a particular moment or not. Kelley is stunned to hear people use Twitter during the show: "Doesn't it skew the viewing experience?"

8:47 PM - A fan asks if there will be more episodes next season. Eastin says they're doing 16 but would like to do 18.

8:50 PM - A fan asks about Tim's previous show "Carnivale." "[There] was going to be a flash forward of five years," the actor says about what would have happened in season three. "And I know Jonesy lived, so I was happy to hear that."

8:52 PM - "I just ask for more lines about the music box," Garson quips when a fan asks the actors' involvement in the writing process. Eastin adds, "He will text me, 'I'm on set now. What you wrote is shit. I'm fixing it.'" Garson apologetically admits he was overly harsh to one writer with regards to the word "frenemies." "[I said] frenemies, really? I'm almost 50."

8:54 PM - Eastin explains he provides the broad strokes for each episode after which a beat-by-beat recording - complete with music cues - is made in which the writers brainstorm each plot point. The writer of the episode then takes the tape and goes off on script to do the first pass.

8:55 PM - Willie admits he's stunned by how collaborative the show is, adding "it's always for the common good. I've never seen that... certainly [not on] 'The Practice,' [which] was a fucking nightmare." Kelley fires back, "I'm beginning to see why it was your character that got shot."

8:57 PM - A fan wishes Eastin a happy birthday. This prompts the whole crowd to sing "Happy Birthday." This is followed by a request to see Matt's Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, which he does amusingly. Yes, this is PaleyFest folks.

9:02 PM - Everyone professes their love for Diahann Carroll. And Matt singing.

9:04 PM - That's a wrap! Jim will take over for "Hot in Cleveland" starting tomorrow night.

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.

  [march 2011]  


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