USA Network is on its way to finishing first in primetime for the third year in a row, and Bonnie Hammer, president of cable entertainment for NBC Universal, the parent company, says one big reason is that when they’re stymied, she and her key staff can come up with offbeat solutions.
Case in point: “Royal Pains,” the pilot of a proposed series for USA, which starts shooting in New York in the next week or so.
“Pains” deals with a skilled M.D., played by Mark Feuerstein, who ends up as a concierge doctor to a community of wealthy inhabitants of the Hamptons. Hammer says that when it came to casting the role of the character’s best friend, USA execs were impressed with an actor named Paolo Costanzo. But they initially hesitated because the two actors look very much alike, which might cause confusion among viewers.
The solution: Hire Costanzo and make his character the brother of Feuerstein. The writer and co-exec producer of the series, Andrew Lenchewski, warmed to the idea and immediately began rewriting.
Rich Frank, co-chairman of The Firm and co-exec producer of the series, says the transformation of Costanzo from friend to brother actually turned out to be a plus, opening up story possibilities if the pilot goes to series.