Nellie Andreeva

USA Network is doubling its bet on Jeff Eastin. The cable network has picked up to series Graceland, the new pilot from White Collar creator/executive producer Eastin. The one-hour drama, from Fox TV Studios, follows a group of diverse agents — from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and U.S. Customs — whose worlds collide while forced to live together in an undercover beach house in Southern California. Sean Daniel served as executive producer on the pilot, which was directed by Russell Fine. “Graceland is very much in our sweet spot — it has that fantastic and rich look associated with most of our shows, but we also want to go to very edgy and dark places with it,” USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. “The characters’ day job takes them to places we haven’t gone with our original series.”

Eastin will run both Graceland and White Collar, whose fourth season premieres July 10, on the heels of what is shaping up to be a big opening for Magic Mike, which features White Collar star Matt Bomer. Because both series are with the same network, USA, and the same studio, FtvS, their schedules will be synched up so Eastin can give his full attention to both. That is the reason Graceland was picked up off-pattern. Eastin is already assembling a writing staff for the new series, with the goal to go into production shortly after filming on Season 4 of White Collar winds down. Graceland brings the number of FtvS-produced series on USA to three, along with White Collar and Burn Notice.

USA had been high on the Graceland pilot and showcased it during its upfront presentation to advertisers in May. At the time, production on the pilot had just wrapped and the network brass were “hopeful” but hadn’t seen the pilot yet, USA co-president Chris McCumber said. “As soon we saw it, there was a consensus,” he said. They received final validation when the testing results came in. “It was one of the highest tested shows we’ve had,” McCumber said. Graceland stars Daniel Sunjata as the house’s senior FBI agent Paul Briggs, who has a legendary past but traded in his suit and tie for a more zen existence.  Aaron Tveit plays Mike Warren, a freshly minted FBI agent just out of the Academy and dripping wet behind the ears. Vanessa Ferlito stars as strong-willed DEA agent Catherine “Charlie” Lopez; Brandon Jay McLaren plays Dale Jakes, a quick-tempered U.S. Customs agent, and Manny Montana plays FBI agent Joe “Johnny” Tuturro, the fun-loving prankster of the house.

As for USA’s current series, Suits and Royal Pains are a lock to be renewed, while I hear the odds on Common Law and Fairly Legal are 50/50. They depend on how the rest of USA’s summer lineup will perform. It is lead by the politically-themed limited series Political Animals starring Sigourney Weaver, set to air between the Democratic and Republican conventions.

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