'Graceland' creator Jeff Eastin on doing a 'darker' show for USA, and why it's called 'Graceland'

jeff-eastin-daniel-sunjata-graceland-gi.jpgUSA has built a very successful business around its "blue-skies" shows -- mostly light, comedy-infused dramas where the good guys come out on top.

Its newest show, "Graceland," strays from that formula a bit. There will be lots of literal blue sky in the series -- it's set primarily at a beach house shared by undercover operatives of various federal law-enforcement agencies -- but its tone is a little darker than most of USA's other original series.

"It's very character driven ... but it is a dark show," creator Jeff Eastin ( "White Collar") said Monday (Jan. 7) at the TCA winter press tour. "But I consider it more of sort of a reality-based show. You know, where 'White Collar' kind of creates its own reality, this one we're trying to make it as real as possible. And within that it turns out there's a lot of darkness when it comes to things like being an undercover officer."

There will still be some humor in "Graceland," Eastin says, but "instead of the laughs coming off of jokes, it kind of comes out of the reality of what it is."

"Graceland" is set in Southern California (though it's filming in Florida), even though you might think of Memphis and Elvis Presley upon seeing the title. There's a slight Elvis connection, but Eastin says the title is meant more to invoke the idea of a safe place for the characters.

"The working title was just 'Safe House,' which I thought was a little dull," Eastin says. "And thematically for the show, I was looking at something. And actually, [star Daniel Sunjata] got a pretty good speech about it in the pilot where he says, within these walls, there's safety. From that idea came the idea of kind of a sanctuary, and 'Graceland' just kind of flowed out of that. ... But [the feds] would seize these houses from all sorts of guys. And in our particular case, they seized the house from a guy who was an Elvis fan. For a while, there was going to be a big velvet Elvis hanging in the foyer. We decided that wasn't a good idea, but we kept the title."

"Graceland" will premiere on USA in the summer. 
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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