White Collar: Quality Time with the Criminal Mind

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In all of the time that I've been writing reviews, I have yet to actually rub elbows with the cast of the show that I'm covering. This all changed when I was recently invited to the set of the upcoming USA Network show White Collar, about the unlikely partnership between an FBI agent (Peter Burke, played by Tim DeKay) and the con man that had previously eluded him (Neal Caffrey, played by Matt Bomer). The duo team up to catch white collar criminals and general deviants, with the help of Caffrey's under-the-radar friend Mozzie (played by Willie Garson) and the support of Burke's ultra understanding wife Elizabeth (played by Tiffani Thiessen).

On site I was given a chance to meet the actors and find out what makes them tick -- or at least, what they were willing to divulge to a room full of television writers and strangers. Is fraternizing with the actors a conflict of interest? Probably, but only because I couldn't help but like them. After all, it's easier to criticize someone on paper when you haven't shaken their hand in person. In any case, I did change my opinion on a couple of things, which is always a good thing and a rarity for a snarky reviewer like me. Here's what I deduced after my set visit, and though I'm no David Letterman, this list is what I like to call Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Cast of White Collar. Drum roll please…

10. They actually like each other. No, this was not your garden variety "let's be cordial to each other in front of the press but secretly don't even interact" group of actors, they actually really like each other, and it shows. And it made us like them, too.

9. Matt Bomer's face was clearly crafted with a chisel out of stone -- seriously who looks that good up close? When he walked into the room I swear he had a circle of light around him. This is obviously why some people are just meant to be famous and the rest of us hacks just get to write about them.

8. Tim DeKay is a sucker for his kids. He admits that when his daughter has a dance recital, he learns the steps to her dances so he can do them along with her -- yes, every female is now swooning over him, too.

7. Willie Garson has no idea where they got the name for his character Mozzie, but he likes getting to play someone subversive, plus he gets to wear a lot of scarves and corduroy so he's happy.

6. New York City is the fifth member of the cast. They all said there is no place better to shoot a show, even when cab drivers curse them out for blocking traffic.

5. Tiffani Thiessen is pocket-sized. And stunning. Seriously, celebrities are almost all considerably shorter than one would expect, but this girl is legitimately tiny -- and skinny and flawless. You want to hate her for it, but you just can't. Which brings me to my next item…

4. I take back my previously held opinion that she didn't fit in as well as the other cast members. After the writers figured out what her character's profession would be and how she would better play off her on-screen husband played by Tim DeKay and ‘the other woman' played by Matt Bomer, she now brings a whole lot more to the show than she did in her brief pilot appearance. The rough cut did not do her justice, and they've had a chance to develop Elizabeth Burke further -- so I stand corrected (which I rarely do, and I'll deny it if I have to).

3. Matt Bomer hasn't had any actual brushes with the law in real life, but he does enjoy a good crime show. His DVR is full of episodes of Dateline NBC and he does a mean impression of Keith Morrison. If you're an investigative show geek like I am, this gem won't be lost on you.

2. No one in the cast wants to stand next to Bomer when they shoot scenes because his ‘man prettiness' is intimidating. Or as Willie Garson put it, "he's just really unfortunate looking."

1. Tiffani Thiessen is a closet Real Housewives of Orange County fan. To be fair, this had to be coaxed out of her, along with her love for CBS Sunday Morning news. Hey, just because they're on TV doesn't mean we can judge them for what they watch (to their faces, at least).

And there you have it, the reasons that I personally am looking forward to seeing what USA Network has in store for us this season. I now understand where the network's tag line "Characters Welcome" comes from -- these people actually care about developing their players into a believable presence on screen, and we as viewers are all the better for it. In case you didn't catch the first White Collar preview article, you can find it here -- but they polished up the pilot a bit so I'll be revisiting it when the show finally premieres October 23rd on USA. After that, fans can catch Burke and Caffrey's on screen bromance Fridays at 10pm, or the web recap of the White Collar action right here on Poptimal.com.