11:01am PT by Philiana Ng
'White Collar' Mystery Launches Ahead of Winter Premiere
On the heels of USA Network’s successful seven-week “#HashTagKiller” digital campaign for Psych, the cabler is launching a similar two-week mystery leading up to the return of White Collar.
Beginning Tuesday, “Where Is Elizabeth Burke?” allows viewers of the Matt Bomer series to contribute their own theories on the whereabouts of FBI agent Peter Burke’s missing wife Elizabeth, with series creator Jeff Eastin weighing in on a regular basis through USA’s Character Chatter platform and exclusively on WhereIsElizabethBurke.com. (In the summer finale, Neal’s nemesis Keller kidnapped Elizabeth after Peter learned that Neal and Mozzie were in fact in possession of the treasure.)
Each day, new tips and clues – including episode clips and images – will be given and packaged in a way to aid viewers in formulating their ideas.
“The summer season ended on a major cliffhanger and we wanted to work with the writers and Jeff to figure out how we could boost the intrigue to get fans excited again,” Jesse Redniss, vp of digital at USA Network, tells The Hollywood Reporter. Throughout the campaign, Eastin will pinpoint the most interesting theories and highlight those who may be most accurate in addition to “Fan of the Week” spotlights across different platforms, culminating in a reveal of the top fan on premiere day on-air.
THR has exclusively learned the second clue from Eastin, which will appear on the website Wednesday: "Keller knew intimate details regarding the Burkes' conversation. He must have been near Elizabeth during the call, but did he have enough time to travel back to Manhattan and plant the phone in Peter's car? Keller must have some help, but who is it?"
This isn’t the first time White Collar, already renewed for a fourth season, has had a dedicated campaign. When the new intro for White Collar debuted early in the third season, it caused waves online. The network began a campaign for viewers to vote on the fate of the new title versus the old. Eventually, the original opening was made its way back, updated with the new cast additions.
“That really sparked an interest from Eastin’s side and the network to get that two-way communication and conversation flow going between him, the other writers and the fans of the show,” Redniss explains.
With Royal Pains returning Jan. 18, the network is doing "18 Days of Royal Pains Giveaways." Each USA property has a different audience with specific digital offerings catering to that fact.
As the network continues to move toward “social television,” there are desires to integrate companion mysteries and/or supplementary stories into actual TV episodes a la Covert Affairs’ Tweetcast this past summer. The resolution of the six-week online mission was revealed during a July 12 episode.
White Collar returns Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 9 p.m. on USA Network.