Eastin graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in journalism and landed a position as director of photography on two Roger Corman films shooting in Colorado, "Lock & Load" and "White Fury." Shortly thereafter, he loaded his belongings into a Volkswagon camper and headed for Hollywood, where he planned to pursue a career in directing. On the way to L.A., he began writing a screenplay called "Shadow Dancer," a thriller inspired by the Billy Joel song "The Stranger." By coincidence, the script landed on the desk of producer Zalman King ("Wild Orchid," "Red Shoe Diaries") who optioned it immediately. Eastin then wrote a script about a small town hostage situation, which was produced by Trimark Entertainment and released under the title "Held Up" starring Jamie Foxx. Eastin was also chosen by director James Cameron to pen the "True Lies" sequel. For television, he created and executive-produced the series "Hawaii" for NBC and "White Collar" for USA.
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My short bio: New season of Graceland airing this Thursday at 10PM! Catch up on Netflix now!
My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/jAbcuOR.jpg
Edit: I have to go back to work now. We're editing episode 309 right now. Thanks for the great questions and don't forget to tune in this Thursday at 10PM for Graceland Season 3!
Can you explain why the Solano Cartel wanted to kill "Mike the Marine"? I'm not sure how they knew to connect Mike Warren to that alias.
If I recall correctly, it was the Solano Cartel going after Mike under the guise of the Caza Cartel. They were not after Mike the Marine, but Mike the FBI agent who was onto their bus drug route.
Hi Jeff! Here's my question: You had mentioned previously that your idea for Graceland was conceived before White Collar, yet the latter was made first. How has producing White Collar influenced your creativity/ideas for Graceland?
White Collar and Graceland are such different shows that one has almost no intentional influenced on the other. Having done White Collar first restricted the story lines for Graceland because we didn't want to repeat ourselves. White Collar was a great training ground for the process of producing a TV show - working with the writers room, bringing the show in on budget, understanding the importance of a great cast, etc. What's fantastic about television is that you can write a scene today, have it shot tomorrow, then see it cut together the next day. It's a great way to find out what works.
Why does Todd Chrisley have a show?
He's got a hot wife like I do.
Congrats on doing well enough to not need that $2,000. :-)
It was a photocopy of the check. I cashed the damn thing.
Hey Jeff - Do you already have other shows scripted out and ready to push to the networks or does Graceland (and the bonus season/movie of White Collar to come) take up all your time?
This show keeps me pretty busy, but I'm in active development with Fox at the moment.
Was there a specific reason that only the White Collar finale had audio commentary on S6 DVD (and why didn't you all do it together at once instead of doing it twice)? Is there a specific episode you would have loved to do audio commentary on (from all seasons)?
I wish we could do audio commentary on every episode, but the DVD market has collapsed and it's not really financially viable to do it anymore. Fun fact: I attempted to do my own commentary track using headsets in Garageband - it was me, writer Joe Henderson, Tim Dekay and Ross McCall, but one of the $19 headsets had a short and I had to junk the entire thing. I've always been a fan of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's drunk commentaries on South Park. Perhaps our studio will kick in money for the Jim Beam and we can try another one.
Next question: What do you think of the #SaveMikeWarren campaign that was started right after the season two finale?
It was heartwarming. I definitely prefer it over the #SendMikeWarrenToHell campaign.
Many of your stories are rooted in the ideas of friendship, loyalty and trust. Is that based on your own experience with friends and family (minus the drugs/criminal history I assume)?
The truth is I have no friends or family, just the connections with the cartels. But seriously, as a small town kid coming to Hollywood, you learn very quickly who your real friends are and who is trying to manipulate you. Those themes aren't conscious, but you're probably onto something...
Would you ever consider doing a crossover in an episode of another USA show, or one of your own? (Such as the hilarious USA promos that mixed White Collar and Psych or White Collar and Burn Notice.)
I'd love to. We gave some serious consideration to a White Collar/Burn Notice spinoff.
Did you ever toy with Alex returning to WC or did you feel like her story had come to its end?
Had we gone another season I'm sure Alex would have shown up to fuck with Neal and Sara's relationship.
When's the White Collar movie coming? Or spin-off: White Collar Nights with Agent Jones?
White Collar Nights with Agent Jones has been airing for the past three years. Surprised you haven't seen it.
Hi Jeff! Big fan of Graceland. One of my questions is, that I received the season two DVD today and there were no extras. Please can you let us know what is going on with that?
That sucks. I know we didn't record commentaries but was there no gag reel? We had a great one at the wrap party.
Are you content with the series finale of WC? Do you think, if the timing was right, you could write a Movie down the line?
I'm very happy with the White Collar finale. I wrote it that way because I'm very open to the possibility.
Is any of your past or current characters your secret alter ego?
Matt Nix thinks Peter Burke is my ego, and Neal Caffrey is my id...although my former assistant thinks that I am Paul Briggs incarnate.
All of the extra footage from White Collar showed Matt and Tim having a very fun time together! Did the fact that they get along in real life have a lot to do with their great chemistry on the show?
Yes, Matt and Tim are very close. What you see in those outtakes are exactly who they are. Their real life chemistry is a huge part of what made that on-screen relationship work.
I'm a big fan of both shows. Which character, one from each, do you think you are the most similar to?
I'm a mixture of Peter and Neal, and definitely Briggs.
What happened to Lauren's bedroom? I know Paige was written into the series, but it seemed like there were 7 bedrooms season 1 and 6 bedrooms season 2. Did Johnny never turn in king's castle and he just put it in there?
In episode 2, Lauren and Paige shared a room, twin beds, until Lauren moved out. Thank you, I've always wondered if people paid attention to that much detail on my shows.
Which season-long story arc from White Collar was your favourite? I personally loved the treasure story from S3.
The fact that USA let me dry dock a Nazi U-boat makes it one of my favorites. That season generated some of my favorite scenes - specifically Neal robbing the safe in Peter's bedroom while talking to Peter on the phone about friendship and trust.
Hello, Jeff! Will you consider reading an original pilot from an aspiring writer? Thanks!
Fun fact: I hired Chris Masi, one of our writers on Graceland, as my assistant a few years back after meeting him on twitter, so anything is possible. Send your script to him.
Hi! I'm a big fan of both of your shows (I'm actually rewatching WC for the 1000th time today) and I wanted to ask two questions: of all the stories you've ever wrote, which character arc would you say it got you more responses from the fans? And which one would you say you're most proud of having written it?
To answer your first question: For WC, it was the Neal/Sara love story. Love them or hate them together, people got very involved. And for Graceland, it was Briggs as Odin Rossi in Season 1.
For your second question: Of everything I've written, I'm most proud of the Peter/Neal relationship in White Collar. Although, I have to say I'm really excited about Mike's drug addiction arc this season.
Are there any arcs from either show that you wanted to have written but it just didn't work out for some reason? Any stories you would change after the fact?
We had enough White Collar stories to go for another few years. Still wish we could have done our Neal/Peter trapped in an elevator episode.
Graceland is still on, so with the exception of the Charlie/Paige fight I hope we can get everything in that we want!
Did you do any research on white-collar criminals before creating White Collar? Did you speak to any law enforcement or criminals to get a better feel for that world? Were any episodes inspired by real-life cases? The same would apply for Graceland.
Yes, I did a great deal of research on white collar criminals, especially those in the art world. Kevin Mitnick's books were invaluable - especially his examples of social engineering (from which I borrowed freely for Neal). Kevin and I are very close friends - he was a groomsman in my wedding.
Another invaluable resource was the Art Forger's Handbook by the late great Eric hebborn. If you want to know how long to leave a canvas in the oven to age it correctly, this book is for you.
What kind of character growth can we expect for Jakes this season?
Jakes has a slow burn story at first, but arguably has the most interesting character arc of the season. I don't want to spoil too much, but he ends up with a new love named Courtney (like me) and a suitcase full of trouble.
If you could choose one of your characters from either White Collar or Graceland to have its own spin-off show, which would it be - and why?
Easy. Jakes and Johnny should have their own spin-off show. They've got amazing on-screen chemistry. Although, I'm still pushing for White Collar: Chicago.
Any dogs/cats/misc critters in your life at the moment?
Yes! I've got my Chihuahua Cindy who is in love with my wife's Italian Greyhound Clarence (named after Clarence Worley from True Romance).
Tell us about your favourite fan gift 😛 and do you have any special requests for future gifts?
All of them. Whiskey for the drunk commentary.
A drug addiction? Is this going to be some parallel to Paul? (Also, isn't that a spoiler?)
And yes! Neal/Peter are the BEST.
How did you come to the decision to have Paige send Sid to kill Mike? Given what we know of Paige, and despite her very dark turn last season, it seemed so out of character for her.
Simple: Paige's search for personal redemption.
I love all the character dynamics on Graceland. Is there a certain configuration of characters that you would like to explore more? I'm really excited that they'll be Charlie/Paige scenes this season and I'd love to see more Briggs/Johnny or Mike/Jakes.
Thanks! Glad you're looking for more Paige and Charlie. You'll get it. Vanessa suggested a Paige/Charlie fight scene this season, and I'm really upset we're not going to work it in this season, but I'm crossing my fingers for season four.
On a scale of 1-10, how wild is Graceland season 3 going to be?
This one goes to 11.
I'm writing a fanfic for White Collar (my spin on the S5 finale, started before S6 aired), but I've encountered a major writer's block towards the end of my story. My readers are waiting for me to finish (probably shouldn't have started posting until I had written everything)... Any advices on how to move on? How to bring back the inspiration to finish the story?
My secret to avoiding writer's block is just to start writing. Always assume that it's going to be crap but just start punching the keyboard and when you go back...I'll think you'll be surprised how good it is!
DO YOU HAVE any exceptional talents?
I can juggle and do an indefinite wheelie in a wheelchair (although not at the same time). I am also an accomplished woodworker.
Did Matt Bomer or Willie Garson have to train or take sleight of hand classes/lessons from a professional? Or was it mostly camera tricks?
Yes, Simon Lovell was our real life criminal/tech advisor on the show, and he taught them how to pick locks, pick pocket wallets, and a host of other useful tricks. No special effects or magic involved for the most part.
Are we going to meet more of the characters' family members? So far we've met Jakes' son and Johnny's mom. Any chance of meeting other family members?
No plans this season, but for Season 4 I would love to meet Charlie's dad and Johnny's brother.
Can you explain the differences in responsibility between being a Creator vs. being a Showrunner? Do you find your duties to be more content related or managerial?
Creators just come up with the idea, Showrunners actually do all the rest of the work, run the day to day operations. A lot of times, the creator is the Showrunner, but there are are a surprising number of shows where the creator is not the Showrunner. It always surprises me when a network trusts someone with millions of dollars a week just because they came up with one good idea.
Do we get a sauce night this season? If so, does everyone get to eat?
Wheelies are one thing, but can you race? I'll challenge you on a 100 m. race one day ;-)
If it's a 100 m. woodworking race then you're on!
Any chance that you'll be on AfterBuzz TV for an episode this season? Loved your insights when you appeared last season.
They haven't invited me this year, but I'd love to again.
How much time does the writers' room spend on writing an episode (of either show) - and how much time (estimated) do you put into one ep personally?
It's tough to estimate exact time count but we average around 60 hours a week writing. More during the finale.
Is the Raphael still hanging in your living room wall?
Yes, both of them. My wife, Courtney, just wrapped them in bubble wrap to transport them to my new house. I'll probably hang them above the music box, and Graceland season 1 chore wheel.
What was the first time you got paid for writing?
I was paid $2,000 for a movie script called Shadow Dancer. Coincidentally I just found that framed check two nights ago when my wife and I were packing to move into our new house.
What's your favorite sandwich?
Deviled Ham on white with a slice of swiss.
Hey Jeff! First of all... Did you count how many birthday cards Neal received? ;-) Second: What can Collars United do to help improve the chances of bringing White Collar back in one way or another?
We received thousands of cards! Some of them were amazingly elaborate. Deluge USA to improve WC chances and yes...it all helps.
Is the fan enthusiam for Pike (Mike and Paige) surprising to you? Do you ship it? ;)
I’m holding out for the Jakes/Johnny slash-fiction.