When Season 3 of White Collar premiered with a new opening title sequence last June, fans were not pleased. They took to social media — namely Twitter and Facebook — to express their displeasure, and it didn’t go unnoticed. In an unprecedented move, USA bowed to the fan pressure and reverted back to the original titles. Jeff Eastin, the show’s creator, talked to us about why he loves interacting with fans, which actress he snagged as a guest star using Twitter and whether he would ever let viewers decide the show’s ending.
TVGuide.com: How did you first get into social media, and what about it appealed to you?
Jeff Eastin: I got into Twitter mainly because I didn’t understand what the big deal was. And then once we started moving forward with White Collar, fans started following me and I was able to communicate directly with them, which was nice. On the nights we aired, you would find every White Collar writer staring at their iPhone searching for “#WhiteCollar,” and based on the amount of traffic, we would come pretty close to predicting the ratings the next day. To me, that was an incredibly powerful tool — to get that immediate feedback that you could never have gotten five to 10 years ago.
TVGuide.com: What kind of feedback is the most useful?
Eastin: Last year we did a special-effects scene where a book dissolved, and we were really terrified it wasn’t going to play well, but almost instantly we saw people really loved it. That became really powerful for us, just in terms of getting a sense of what people are thinking of the show. We get to instantly see what’s working and what’s not working.
TVGuide.com: Tell us about the new opening credits, and why you changed it back.
Eastin: There was a lot of creative pressure to try to make it a little different, a little slicker. There was such a huge reaction on Twitter and Facebook almost instantly. What we hadn’t anticipated was that people actually liked the original — they were used to the music and visuals. So we had a big debate and I ultimately suggested, “Well, why don’t we have an online vote and see what happens?” And I give USA a lot of credit for actually agreeing to do it.
TVGuide.com: Have you ever gotten in trouble for divulging too much?
Eastin: When I found out we had gotten Season 2 picked up, I tweeted “Congrats to the best cast and crew in television!” but I did it a couple days before I was supposed to. And I got in trouble. But for the most part, USA’s been very encouraging.
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