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On the third day of PaleyFest, USA’s “blue sky” series White Collar took over the Saban Theater on Monday with veteran TV showrunner David E. Kelley on hand to field questions.
It didn’t take long for the White Collar cast, already gearing up for production on Season 3, and creator Jeff Eastin (also celebrating his birthday) to provide entertaining anecdotes and show firsthand why they’re one of the funnest group around. (Look out for exclusive video interviews with the cast and executive producers of White Collar.)
With Season 2 wrapping up tonight with a heartstopping finale (the lucky ticketholders were treated to the episode one day in advance), here are 16 things — one for each episode — we learned about the lively cast, crew and the modern-day caper:
1. Kate really is dead: It’s tough to imagine Neal’s love Kate coming back from an explosion as deadly as the one witnessed at the end of Season 1, but fans out there — including Kelley — still believe that she may still be lurking. “Kate’s not dead, is she?,” Kelley pressed. “Kate’s dead,” Eastin confirmed (again), adding that White Collar fan and author Anne Rice suggested “we bring her back from the dead.” Sorry Kate-Neal shippers!
2. Neal wants to be a good boy: Eastin shared an interesting fact about Neal and his dilemma, saying that “he may want to be good, but he was born bad.” With the way things turn out in the end of the finale and where things are with Sara (new series regular Hilarie Burton), something’s got to give.
3. Is a Neal-Elizabeth pairing in the works?: When Kelley hinted that there may be something more between Neal and Peter’s designer wife Elizabeth, Tiffani Thiessen laughed it off. “She fancies Neal .. and she really likes Neal for the effect he’s had on her husband,” she said. “There’s a sizzle there,” Tim DeKay added.
4. Bomer tried impersonating DeKay, and looked like a chicken doing it: During the “Power Play” episode, in which Neal and Peter switched roles, Matt Bomer recounted the time when he was filming a boardroom scene with Neal acting as Peter. DeKay, the great colleague that he is, gave him a few pointers. “One of the things I thought was a good opportunity in that episode was to imitate [Tim’s] physicality and I knew he’d go back at me and be even worse. I knew what I was getting into. I was running a board meeting and Tim always puts his hand on his hip and opens his jacket so I started to do that,” Bomer said. “We don’t get a lot of takes .. and I always go to Tim for guidance .. and he says, ‘You know, that’s good, it’s OK, but you gotta stick your chest out.’ ” The crowd laughs. “And I said, ‘Really? OK, yeah ..,’ ” Bomer says. “And I did it even further .. and while doing ADR. It was too late to do anything at that point and I looked like a chicken. .. I didn’t have the same pectorals .. I was compensating with my spine.” DeKay replied, “It was good, it was good,” adding that he’d love to do more of the Neal-Peter switcheroos in the new season. “Yeah, it was fun,” Bomer said. “It was a hoot,” DeKay agreed. “I didn’t mind,” Thiessen chimed in with a wink.
5. The only time Bomer was mad while filming was during Season 1 and here’s why: Remember the season finale where Neal and Alex were in the pool? It wasn’t heated. “The one time we didn’t get alone was .. for those who recall in last year’s finale .. it was the one time I saw you real grouchy,” Eastin said to Bomer. “I was freezing! Icicles were forming on my nose. I might as well have shot a scene from the Titanic,” Bomer exclaimed. DeKay chimed in: “I remember you guys shooting that scene in the morning.” “Yeah,” Bomer said. “Cause in the afternoon, we that’s when Marsha came in as Diana ..,” DeKay said. “Which worked out great because we were recovering from hypothermia,” Bomer said half-jokingly. “But we had to cut because your teeth were making too much noise,” DeKay answered.
6. Twitter is Eastin’s dial test: When asked if being on the social media website affected his role as a producer, Eastin likened Twitter to a tool he could use to gauge immediate reactions during an episode. It’s the “closest thing I’ve found to a dial test,” he said. “Do they like the kiss between Neal and Sarah? .. Oh they liked it .. oh that guy doesn’t like it.” Being on Twitter and being connected to the fans has affected the progression of certain plot points. “Storylines were questioned the second time around because of reaction,” Eastin admitted, but didn’t go into detail.
7. Diana gets a love interest: Marsha Thomason spilled during the panel session one of the only Season 3 spoilers, in that we will finally meet her character Diana’s lady friend. “We’re always having conversations about where our characters could go and what could happen next,” Thomason said. “I particularly enjoy going undercover, and one thing I can say is I am going to be meeting my lady, Christy. Maybe Diana’s gonna get some!”
8. A threesome for Mozzie?: “Love scenes between Sara and Mozzie ..,” DeKay said of potential hookups. “And June as well,” Garson joked. (They were both kidding ..)
9. USA’s network notes are usually about fruit bowls and shoes: Sometimes notes on scripts aren’t the ones you’re expecting. Kelley gave an example: “Or make the rapist seem more friendly ..” Eastin deadpanned: “We havne’t had a rapist yet.” He revealed that a lot of the notes USA gives are mainly about the clothes and the shoes, instead of something more obvious like a Nazi sub. Or they’ll say something like, “The scene’s too bland, please add a fruit bowl,” Eastin said. “Sure that’s how the Psych pineapple started.”
10. Eastin is ready for The Chicago Code‘s Shawn Ryan: The two rival showrunners have been going at it in a (friendly) Twitter war with Ryan one day “breaking into” the White Collar writers’ offices. “I have a really good one coming up on Shawn Ryan very soon,” Eastin declared.
11. It wasn’t always known as White Collar: The series was pitched as Commuted, with the tagline: “He ended his sentence with a proposition.”
12. DeKay is a crossdresser: Alright, so that was stretching the truth a bit, but Kelley, known for legal dramas like Ally McBeal, made mention of DeKay’s appearance on one of his long-running TV series. Kelley asked Eastin: “Did you know he was a crossdresser on The Practice?” Eastin responded to the delight of the audience: “Not necessarily on The Practice.”
13. Pranks, pranks, pranks: And here’s the best story and it belongs to Thomason. “So this one day, I was going on and on and on about a celebrity that I can’t stand, and I was going on and on and on. And then the next day, this enormous bouquet of flowers from the celebrity. ‘I heard you were talking about me. Thank you so much.’ And I said, ‘Oh ..’ because we all work with so many people. It’s six degrees of everyone, do you know what I mean? I go, ‘It must have gotten back to this person,’ and [I was] grilling everyone. I was convinced it was you Tim .. and then I found out it was Sharif [Atkins] and he got me so good!”
14. [spoiler alert!] A love triangle of sorts surfaces in the Season 2 finale, with one scene — with water playing a role — between Neal and a certain female complicating matters.
15. [spoiler alert!] There will be trouble for a beloved duo in tonight’s finale, and that’s not a reference to Elizabeth and Peter.
16. Kidnappings, murders, drug addiction?: Kelley noted that Season 1 was filled with quintessential white collar crimes, but the second season seemed to deviate into darker territory, infusing murders and kidnappings into the storylines, so what gives? “We just ran out of white collar crimes,” Eastin replied. At one point, the creator joked that because White Collar was on the USA Network, he had to cut back on Peter’s heroin addiction in the show.
The Season 2 finale airs tonight at 10 p.m. on USA.
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