Jeff Eastin, who created the Matt Bomer comedic crime drama White Collar, goes a bit darker and edgier with his latest USA series, Graceland (Thursdays, 10/9c). Based on a true premise, the show stars Aaron Tveit as an FBI rookie who moves into a beach house secretly populated by DEA, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Eastin explains why we should love Graceland tender.
TV Guide Magazine: I have time to watch one more show. Why should it be yours?
Jeff Eastin: Graceland is a thrill ride with a lot of heart. I wanted to show what life is like for someone who is working undercover. Here, we have a family of sorts, a group of undercover agents from all different agencies living together. They share their work, their pain and their love. Of course, there are thrills to be had and bad guys to be caught — but at its core this show is about the lives of the people trying to keep us safe and the gray zone in which they are forced to reside.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?
Eastin: Anyone who wants to watch an honest portrayal of what it's like to work undercover. I wrote Graceland to tell the truth about the undercover experience. If you're seeking honest and heartfelt storytelling, this is your show.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us the recipe for Graceland.
Eastin: Equal parts Miami Vice (remove pastels and set aside), The Wire, and American Beauty. Add a liberal splash of Lord of the Flies. Shake unexpectedly and serve with a comedic wedge. Best enjoyed on a beach during a summer sunset, preferably with a few tacos.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show?
Eastin: "Do I really have to wait another month for Episode 2?" The best comments come from the fans. Anytime I have an audience who can't wait for the next episode, I know I've done my job well.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing?
Eastin: "I hope that wasn't supposed to be a twist at the end."
TV Guide Magazine: Who was right?
Eastin: Obviously the fan who can't wait for the next episode, because yes, that was a twist.
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title?
Eastin: Safe House.
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off.
Eastin: The New York-based spinoff, Sublet, features 17 brooding agents crammed into a 1,100-square-foot SoHo loft. Stories will focus on making rent and eating vegan.
TV Guide Magazine: What credit of yours would you prefer we forget?
Eastin: Shasta McNasty. But if you're going to crash and burn, it's best to do it in obscurity. In truth I am proud of all my credits because they tell the story of how I got to where I am today.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch Graceland?
Eastin: You'll waste your time watching something [Burn Notice executive producer] Matt Nix created.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us something about your amazing cast.
Eastin: Through the shoot, life came to imitate art as our cast became very close, just like the characters on the show.
TV Guide Magazine: If you weren't producing this show, what series would you most like to be an executive producer on?
Eastin: I am a huge fan of The Shield. Maybe I can talk Shawn Ryan into letting me produce the seventh season.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's scare the network. Tell us an idea that didn't make it to the screen.
Eastin: The really scary part is, all of those ideas that did scare the network made it to the screen.
TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: If you like _______, you'll love our show.
Eastin: A little humor with your heroin.
TV Guide Magazine: Pick a show with which to start a fake feud.
Eastin: I would love to pick a feud with Archer because their staff would find the best ways to mess with us. Perhaps they would let an ocelot loose in our writers room while we're not looking.
TV Guide Magazine: With what show would you like to do a crossover episode?
Eastin: We actually did a shout-out to Breaking Bad. One of our guys tests meth and says, "It isn't as good as the blue stuff." I would love to do an entire episode where our team is on the hunt for a certain Mr. Heisenberg.
TV Guide Magazine: How will your show change the face of TV as we know it?
Eastin: Graceland shows that USA isn't afraid to dirty up its blue skies, and that it's OK for networks to push beyond their comfort zones and find new story possibilities because of it.