Cable's big week: Two more scripted dramas

The broadcast networks keep filling the summer with reality shows and avoiding scripted ones. With a few exceptions -- two well-made Canadian shows (NBC's "Saving Hope," ABC's "Rookie Blue") on Thursdays, leftovers of CBS' "NYC 22" on Saturdays -- the big networks have no new, scripted episodes.

Fortunately, cable fills the gap. On Monday (see previous blogs), TNT returned "The Closer" and debuted the terrific "Perception." Tonight (Tuesday, July 10), USA starts the seasons for "White Collar" and "Covert Affairs." Here's the story I sent papers on Tim DeKay and "White Collar":


When a camera is in your face,
everything seems to change.

Less is more; almost-nothing is almost
perfect. Just ask Tim DeKay, whose “White Collar” is back.

“It took me a long time to realize
that,” he said. “In theater, your job is to share with the

When you're being filmed, however, you
don't want to overshare. There's no need to project a big gesture;
one actor told him: “All you have to do is think it.”

And now “White Collar” revolves
around a micro-gesture by his character, FBI agent Peter Burke.
Surrounded by other Feds, he had to subtly signal Neal Caffrey: Don't
come any closer; run away.

Neal ran, wrapping up last season. In
the two-part season-opener, he's on an island that has beaches,
beauties and (most importantly) no extradition treaty.

Both hours were filmed in Puerto Rico.
“It's fantastic,” said DeKay, 49. “You get to be on a beautiful
island, with all the people you enjoy working with.”

They captured a gorgeous, beach world –
far different from his roots in Ithaca, New York.

Tall (6-2-and-a-half) and athletic,
DeKay played basketball and baseball, envisioning a life as a
major-league pitcher. That notion “vanished pretty quickly” when
he got to Le Moyne College in Syracuse and saw the level of

Fresh from college, he worked for a
casket company in Syracuse, doing community theater on the side. “I
found myself doing so many plays – building sets, acting,

So he quit a job he liked and became a
theater grad student at Rutgers. There, he found a love of theater in
general and of his acting-class scene-partner in particular; they
married and have two children.

And his baseball hopes? In two TV
series (“Carnivale” and “White Collar”), DeKay has played
former baseball pros. He even got to direct one episode with scenes
in Yankee Stadium.

In “White Collar,” he plays an FBI
guy who captures Neal (Matt Bomer), a master thief, then becomes his
friend and mentor. “When I read the pilot script, I felt the crux
of it was on how deep their relationship was.”

It's become a strong friendship. These
guys would follow each other to the ends of the Earth … or, in this
case, to a beautiful island.

– “White Collar.” 9 p.m.
Tuesdays, USA; followed at 10 by “Covert Affairs”

– Third season starts with a
two-parter, July 10 and 17

– The season-opener reruns at 11 a.m.
Satuday (July 14), 11:24 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. July 17