Eastin first gave USA Network White Collar, which revolves around an FBI agent and the world-class con man who assists him. Graceland, meanwhile, concerns a beach house that serves as home base — and home– to an “all-star team” of agents from the FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs. But despite its seemingly sunnier, Southern California setting, the new drama is perhaps USA’s darkest fare to date.
“It is a dark show, but I consider it a more reality-based show” compared to White Collar, Eastin said. “This one we try to make as real as possible.
“What I’m really proud of it’s that its not just a dark show, but it’s a pretty funny show,” Eastin added. “But instead of the laughs coming out of jokes, it comes out the reality of what it is” — as assembly of disparate types and personalities living under one roof.
“It’s not typical television storytelling,” said Aaron Tveit, who plays the titular house’s new arrival, a rising star FBI agent. Castmate Vanessa Ferlito echoed that point, saying that whereas the likes of CSI: NY (where she once hung her hat) are “about the crime, this is about our characters, our life together. It’s very different, very unique.”
Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me), Brandon Jay McLaren (The Killing), Manny Montana (Chicago Code) and Serinda Swan (Breakout Kings) round out the ensemble of roommates.
Is Eastin’s latest too different for the USA brand? Speaking with TVLine, network co-president Jeff Wachtel contended that Political Animals last year dipped its toe into “some pretty dark places.” And just as that show enjoyed the gloss of its D.C. setting, Graceland “has the warmth and the vulnerability” of its beach house environs.
“If we were only going after drug dealers and the Russian mob, then [Graceland] would be purely a dark show and maybe out of our comfort zone,” Wachtel continued. “But one of the things we always look for is … a place for characters to live and thrive, and that means a place that has something aspirational to it, where people are trying to make a difference. So while it has some real grittiness to it, [the agents] come home and make sauce…. They live together.”
USA Network is doubling up on White Collar creator Jeff Eastin, giving a series pickup to his new drama, Graceland.
Graceland stars Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me), Aaron Tveit (Gossip Girl), Manny Montana (The Chicago Code), Vanessa Ferlito (CSI:NY) and Brandon Jay McLaren (The Killing) as agents for the FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs who are forced to live together in an undercover beach house in Southern California.
The pilot also features guest stars Scottie Thompson (NCIS), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and Jay Karnes (The Shield).
“There aren’t many people we’d trust to run two shows on our air, but Jeff Eastin is one of them,” USA co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel said in announcing the pick-up. “He wrote a brilliant script; [director] Russell [Fine] delivered a superb pilot; Daniel and Aaron anchor an incredible ensemble cast.”