TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: A chunk of the stories we tell you about on this show involve white-collar crime — Bernie Madoff, of course, this week it was was accused insider trader Raj Rajaratnam. There is a new TV series premiering tonight on USA Networks that is about these kinds of criminals and the agents who track them. It’s called “White Collar.” The show’s creator is Jeff Eastin. Welcome to the program.
Jeff Eastin: Thank you.
Radke: In you show, actor Matt Bomer plays Neil Caffrey, a con artist with fashionable threads and a way with the ladies. Here’s a clip.
Scene from “White Collar:”Is it true you just got out of prison? Do I look like I just got out of prison?
Jeff, why do we glamorize the white-collar criminal?
Eastin: I’ve always been fascinated by these guys like Neil. I’ve had some guys that are in my life that are this way, not necessarily criminals. But they’re these kinds of guys that you could take and you could drop them anywhere in the world you want, with really nothing. And by the end of the day, they’re going to be having dinner at the palace, sleeping with the princess.
Radke: Right. The Leo DiCaprio model.
Eastin: Right. Exactly, yeah. And I think with Frank Abagnale you have to respect a guy who by most true accounts, handed his wallet to a federal agent and said, “Here, watch this for me.” I think there’s a little part of us that wishes we could be that bold in our daily lives, or we could be that charming.
Radke: I understand the Madoff scandal broke while you were filming the pilot?
Eastin: Yup. I think actually we were on Fifth Avenue when I got the call.
Radke: What do you want your viewers to come away with thinking about white-collar crimes?
Eastin: We’re trying to actually show that there are some down sides. One of the things we’ve done is try to really put a human face on the victims. I think one of the tough things about the Bernie Madoff story, I saw the news media having a little bit of trouble trying to find the victim. It’s tough when you’ve got a multimillionaire who’s lost 10 percent. For us, a lot of that was really kind of digging into the stories and saying, “OK, who really got hurt here?” Because it’s not a victimless crime. And I think we’ve done a fairly good job of showing the ramifications of this. It’s like, yeah, this guy can drive a Bentley and he gets the penthouse. But on the other side, there’s somebody down on the side who’s out on the street. There’s a kid over here that didn’t get the operation he needed.
Radke: The show is called “White Collar.” It’s on USA Networks. And the creator is Jeff Eastin. Jeff, thank you.
Eastin: Thank you.