Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch Talk 'Royal Pains'

The executive producers of the USA series talk about the new second season.
  • By TVweb  |  May 19, 2010
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Producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch talk Royal Pains
Producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch talk Royal Pains
Last year the USA Network released yet another hit series in Royal Pains and now the series is back with a brand new second season, which kicks off on Thursday, June 3 at 10 PM ET on USA. Executive producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch recently held a conference call to discuss this upcoming second season and here's what they had to say.

My first question is do you have any trouble finding enough medical maladies for the show? You guys have done some really great ones, so far. Is it difficult to come up with?

Andrew Lenchewski: Yes and no. One of our writers, Carol Flint, has a common refrain she uses. She worked on ER for a bunch of seasons and she liked to say that there's only so many things that can go wrong with the human body. While that's true, we have the benefit of a brilliant medical advisor named Irv Danesh, or as he's called here on set, Dr. Irv, who runs an E.R. outside of Boston and he's just a story engine. He has not only a ton of stories to tell but has great ways of getting into medical stories in new and innovative ways and it just sort of helps keep the medicine fresh week to week for us.

Are there any favorite actors of yours that you'd like to snag as guest actors for the show?

Michael Rauch: We have a long list of actors that we want to work with in the show. A couple of whom we're lucky enough to be doing this season, like Marcia Gay Harden and Henry Winkler is an actor that we're really excited about. J.B. Smoove, who we're trying to get into one of the episodes and feel like in terms of his ability as a comedian and actor would fit in really nicely.

My favorite thing is when two different shows they crossover, so I'm excited to hear what Big Show is going to be doing on the show this season.

Michael Rauch: Big Show starts shooting tomorrow and he's going to be in our third episode of the season playing an actor who is in a kind of cult horror film franchise and his characters name is Garbage Collector. He's hanging out in the Hamptons as part of his getting ready to do the next film and something goes wrong with him medically and he becomes a patient of Hank's. Mark Feuerstein, who plays Hank, and the actor Paul Wight, who is AKA Big Show, actually did a movie this past summer together. So they've worked together before which is how we came up with the idea of using him in the show because Mark had such a good time with working with him and said it might be fun to put this guy in the show. And Andrew and I saw him and saw his dimensions and thought it would be a lot of fun to put someone whose 485 lbs., 7 ft. 2 in. in an episode with Mark.

Andrew Lenchewski: And the other part of the crossover is that Mark's going to be doing a surprise guest appearance, although I guess it's not so surprise anymore now that I just said it, on WWE Monday Night RAW so we're all looking forward to that.

I love Big Show and I think he's going to be a great addition to the cast and for my follow-up question, I'm also curious about Henry Winkler's role on the show.

Andrew Lenchewski: We knew, obviously, off of the season one ender, the cliffhanger at the end of the finale that this was the major thing we'd be thinking about and talking about during the hiatus was who would be the perfect guy to play Eddie and Henry Winkler was on the short list from the beginning. But what we didn't know was that he had watched the show with his wife in season one, every episode, and was by his own admission a huge fan, which was enormously flattering to us. Then we met him and you could just feel the enthusiasm for the show and the passion for all the opportunities this role could present. He brought a ton of really cool ideas and incredible specificity to his recollection of season one. He was quoting lines from episodes. It just sort of blew us away and we fell in love with him. We cast him and we shot a scene with him in the season premiere for season two and right now we're shooting our second episode which has him as well and it's just been fantastic to work with the T.V. icon.

One of the things I'm really bummed is about the first season is that it's a bit of throwback series where it's entertaining, it's character based and without complicated mythology. Since the show became a hit do you now feel the need to create a mythology of sorts in kind of a structured direction where the first season felt very episodic and even though there was an overall background story ... like an episode where you could just pick it up at any point. Do you feel the need that you have to-?

Michael Rauch: That's a good question and we felt in the first season exactly what you were saying which that we only had 12 episodes including the pilot and we really wanted to setup the environment and the characters. We did begin the seeds of mythology that I think will become more apparent when you start watching the second season because a lot of the stuff that we're dealing with in terms of character and relationships in this season that with our 18 episodes we have more time to get into. But when you start seeing these episodes and following the storylines I think if you look back the first season you'll see actually that we planted some of the seeds there.

It seems like music is an important part of your show. You use a lot of Indie artists. Can you talk a little bit about the music choices you make for the show?

Michael Rauch: Music really is important to us, both within the show and outside of the show and we felt like the whole kind of notion of the show in terms of being a concierge doctor was something that felt like it had not been done before and was new. We felt that we wanted to try as often as possible to bring in things that felt unfamiliar and music felt like a great way to do that. To bring in songs that you didn't have, you didn't remember things when you heard them in other shows, other movies but really would feel fresh in the show and also being able to have the opportunity to give Indie bands breaks. We have a great music team. Our composer, Jim Levine, we have music supervisors, Oliver Hild and Alicen Schneider and they really feed us amazing music. And we're able to pick from a great selection to lay in certain tracks that play the best against the scenes we're looking for. So we're glad you noticed that because it really is a big part of the show and it hasn't gotten much attention yet but we're hoping that we're able to put together a compellation of some really great songs.

We're psyched that Mary Lynn Rajskub going to be on the show. Can you tell us a little bit about working with her?

Andrew Lenchewski: Yes. It's been a real thrill. I think we both were huge fans of her work on 24 and I think as far as we know this is the first guest starring role she's done since she came on 24, at least since 24 started to unwind. But she couldn't be playing a role more different from Chloe on 24. She's actually going to be in the second episode as the stepdaughter of Mrs. Newburg played by Christine Ebersole, who is a recurring character throughout the first season. She just brings a really great warmth and humanity to the character she's playing along with her trademark quirky sense of humor. It's been really cool to work with her.

Dr. Hank Lawson is the perfect fish tossed out of water and he really fits in the whole USA Network of shows. I wanted to ask how you presented the concept and how you got in with USA. In addition, how would that show be different on ABC or CBS or FOX?

Andrew Lenchewski: The concept came from a friend of mine whose family had been using a concierge physician and he asked me if I thought it might be a good idea for a T.V. show and I said I thought it was the perfect idea for a T.V. show. So along with two of our fellow executive producers that work with me and Michael, Rich Frank and Paul Frank, we went into USA and we pitched them the idea and serendipitously they had just acquired the rights to air reruns of House on the network and I think they we're looking for an original medical drama to pair with it. So our timing couldn't have been better and they really embraced the idea of doing something in this blue skies world of the Hamptons centered on a strong central character like Hank. They bought the idea and then I went off to write the script and then they picked that up, the pilot. To your second question, I think that, first of all it's just such a different business being in the broadcast business versus being in the cable business. They picked our pilot up along with one other pilot, which was the White Collar pilot during that development cycle and they were the only two pilots they made that year. Where as if we had been in contention at ABC we would have been competing against 10 or 20 other pilots and immediately your chances of really being nurtured and ultimately being picked up are so much smaller. We had an enormous amount of support, enormous amount of attention and then ultimately when we got picked up, the series, we benefited from the fact that they were throwing all of there promotional and marketing muscle behind just one show and I think that really paid off in the end for us.

Will Divya and Evan ever get together? I do love watching them fight, but I was wondering if they'd ever hookup?

Michael Rauch: It depends who you're asking, Frederic. We have a disagreement in the writers' room about that but one of the things that we love is their dynamic together and the tension they have between each other. The big question is if they ever do hookup would it destroy that ... would it make it even stronger? We don't know yet, so we can't tell you. But I would definitely say just keep watching and at some point we'll all find out.

If Hank got his license back in a way that didn't involve selling out would he go back to Manhattan? Would he even have patients to treat in the Hamptons during the off season?

Andrew Lenchewski: Just one slight correction which is that he didn't actually have his license revoked. The family of the patient who ended up dying in the pilot came after his license in the later episode, that was the 11th episode of last season and they were unsuccessful in doing that thanks to Boris' assistance. But the theme of selling out is a theme that looms large for us. The idea of Hank balancing doing well versus doing good is something that's woven into the fabric of the show. If the opportunity presented itself to go back to the world he lived in before the show began in Brooklyn, working in an E.R. in a big hospital, it's a very interesting question as to whether or not he'd see the appeal of going back and it's one we may explore down the road.

Quick question for you, is the second season still the same summer as the first season or has time passed?

Michael Rauch: It is-we refer to it as the endless summer so it is. It's basically almost immediately following the finale of season one.

So is the plan for the time being, this is all still the same time period that we're going to cover?

Michael Rauch: Yes. For this season we, having only had 12 episodes in season one we felt like there was a lot more stories to tell in terms of Hank and Evan's first summer in the Hamptons and we didn't want to miss the opportunity to be able to fully explore that by having their first summer end after just 12 episodes. So we're continuing their stories into this season.

{boldIf Hank and Jill don't get together and I'm okay with the Ross and Rachel-ness of it all, for now, are you guys planning on ... with other love interests in the meantime?

Michael Rauch: We definitely last year had Jill with her husband, ex-husband, Charlie, and now this season, that they're taking some time off from each other we definitely do want to explore the possibility of Hank meeting some other women as well. We definitely have a character in mind who we'll be introducing early on.

What would it take for Divya to tell her parents about her job and her dreams? Seriously, what Indian parents would have a problem with a doctor for a daughter, granted she's not a doctor per se, but she is in medicine?

Andrew Lenchewski: I think for us it was less about playing to or against any stereotypes that may exist, rightly or wrongly. It was just about a character rebelling against the expectations of her parents and in this case her passion was for medicine. And in this case her parents expectations were for her to sort of fall into line with tradition and with going into the family business in this particular case. We did play in episode nine of season one that she came clean inadvertently when she had to save her dad's life and so the cat was out of the bag and she had an emotional scene in a hospital room with her parents. In this season we'll be sort of taking that forward more on the personal side as far as her engagement to Raj as they head toward a scheduled wedding and whether or not that's something she's prepared to embrace or whether she's, once again, going to rebel against what her parents expect of her.

Yes, actually, my question is about in writing an individual episode. You have the character development, looking into what you're looking, hints your giving us about the future, there was also the medical aspect, what the medical problem's going to be. How does the situation go amongst the writers? When they say, alright, are you starting with the situation, a medical thing, a character? What brings up the next topic that we're going to see in the next week?

Michael Rauch: Well, it's a really good question and I'll try to answer it as simply, although it's complicated, because we have a great team of writers of which we're just two, but there are six other ones. We all sit together and talk about each episode and sometimes it's driven by, okay, what do we owe from last episode in terms of a storyline? Sometimes it's driven by a great medical idea that one of us will have come up with or our medical advisor and consultant, Dr. Irv Danesh will come up with. But usually, what happens is we have an A story that we want to follow and then we start talking about a B story and try to both have a single episode storyline in terms of the medical cases but also be able to continue our relationships from episode to episode. Often times it's the medicine that drives an episode but what feels like is just as often it's really the character stuff which is equally important to us.

Royal Pains premieres its second season on Thursday June 3rd at 10 PM ET on the USA Network.

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