Gene Klein (I Just Want My Pants Back) is a producer for two USA shows: Suits and Covert Affairs. The series could not be more different, which has to make working on both at once, despite the fact that the sets are right across the hallway from each other, a challenge.
Yet Klein seems completely relaxed as he spends time with us during a recent visit to the set of Suits. Not only does he provide his own discussion time, but also supervises some of the actors who come in, perhaps to make sure that they don’t spill too much more than they are supposed to. He is easy going, having quickly rescheduled his time at multiple instances, all with good humor.
A little background about the two shows Gene works on: Suits is a story about a group of lawyers (one of whom does not actually have a law degree), as they face the morality and challenges of the job. Far from a case-of-the-week procedural, it’s instead a character study and exploration of right and wrong, with long, ongoing arcs.
Covert Affairs is a CIA adventure, with a team of operatives spending time in the field and in the office, and even glimpsing into their personal lives. It is a little more structured, usually devoting a large chunk of each episode on a stand alone mission, which could take place anywhere in the world, and be heavy in special effects. But it also has character-driven plots that carry over from one installment to the next.
Naturally, since we are on the set of Suits, and that show is what brings us to Toronto, Suits is the focus of the conversation today.
The first thing out of Gene’s mouth when he finally sits down is that he has been looking for a tux to wear into the room, a reference to the earlier visit by Gabriel Macht. It sets a wonderful tone, and certainly goes over well with this crowd. Gene takes his job seriously, and seems genuinely happy to be here discussing it.
The talk quickly jumps into the upcoming plot of Suits‘s second season. After all, we’ve only been getting brief teases from the stars, and Gene is the one to go to for the real scoop. Everyone wants to know who this Hardman is that will be coming into the picture, shaking up the dynamics of the law office. Gene will only say that Mike and Harvey will be at the center of Hardman’s story, and that it will mean some serious changes for the characters.
Gene is more anxious to talk about the webisodes, which are entitled Suits Recruits. He reveals that they are mostly made up of scenes left on the cutting room floor. They aren’t bad, but were cut because everyone is very aware of the comedy and drama balance of the show; they would have thrown off the overall flow of the episode or messed up the tone had they been left in. But they are good enough to see the light of day, and this seems like a good way to accomplish that.
Last year’s cliffhanger is Mike’s big secret (that he’s not a lawyer) possibly being exposed to the boss. As huge as it is to have Jessica find out that Harvey and Mike have been lying to her, Gene points out that, at the end of the day, the impact is only that one more person has been brought in on the deception. That’s not as huge as some may play it up to be. Gene is really looking forward to the day that Rachel, whom Mike will be helping prep for the LSAT this year, finds out.
Asked about what is in store for Mike and Harvey in the upcoming episodes, especially in reference to possible flashbacks, Gene easily explains the essential difference between the two characters. In Mike, viewers want to see what happens. Regarding Harvey, we want to see what made him the way that he is. Taking that into account, Harvey’s back story is much more likely to be explored than Mike’s. Though Gene does confirm a flashback episode is currently being written, which will include story for both.
Klein considers both Harvey and Donna parental figures for Mike. They like and care about the younger man for different reasons. But the fact is, they both care. As such, while their reactions may be different, they will both work to help him out.
He also talks about how Donna and Rachel do not have a past with each other. The beginnings of their relationship are unfolding right on screen in the now, which makes it exciting, to be in on the ground floor.
This is an indication of a larger trend. Everybody has a different favorite character on Suits, and the show doesn’t need to bank it all on one or two guys. While Harvey and Mike are the focus of season one, there is some serious talent in the other four main performers, and many people would like to find out more about the other members of the ensemble. This wish will soon be coming true.
Gene is quick to admit that music is essential to Suits. The creative team will be participating in Spotify this year, so it will be easy to get more information on what pieces are used in the episodes. Music is very important to the tone and story, and that includes the theme song. One of the writers in the writers’ room even hums the theme song after they finish pitching the teaser each week!
Costumes are no less important, as clothes really do make the man (or woman). What of the titular article of clothing? Klein says that Harvey wears Tom Ford, while Mike wears different suits, true to his character.
The last tasty tidbit Gene has to offer is a big one! Episode 11 will air a mere three weeks after episode 10, as the schedule is currently planned. This means that, while there will be a cliffhanger in the mid-season finale, there will be a very short wait on the part of the viewers for resolution.
Thanks to Mr. Gene Klein for taking so much time out of his busy day for us! It was a great experience!
Suits returns this Thursday, June 14th at 10 p.m. ET on USA.