By Jay Bobbin
Just because the characters of Royal Pains typically are seen at play in the Hamptons in the summer, that doesn’t mean they don’t celebrate the end-of-year holidays, too.
USA Network confirms it by giving the series — which wrapped its fourth round a few months ago — a new, stand-alone offering called Off-Season Greetings. The two-hour movie both advances the saga and goes backward with it, as doctor-to-the-rich Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) recalls his earlier romances while his brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) prepares to walk down the aisle with fiancée Paige (Brooke D’Orsay).
“It’s directed by one of our executive producers, Michael Rauch,” Feuerstein says of Off-Season Greetings, “and no one knows the DNA of the show more than him … other than our other executive producer, Andrew Lenchewski. The two of them have built such an efficient and creative machine, and the show has gone in so many interesting directions. I get to play a character who’s close to me, but who’s also so much more of a human being than I could ever hope to be.
“Thanks to the writers who bring their own special flavors to this incredible melting pot of creativity, we have characters who are rich enough for us to earn the right to say, ‘Who were Hank and Evan before this?’ We go farther back into the past than we’ve ever gone on the show. We’ve had moments where Hank was working in a Brooklyn hospital, but now, we go into Evan’s shady career past and Hank’s shady romantic past.”
Off-Season Greetings also marks the return of Jill Flint as Hank’s former flame, who has been away serving the medical needs of an African village. “Every time I see Jill Flint, it brightens my day,” Feuerstein enthuses. “She is such a wonderful actress and such a wonderful person, I love working with her.
“Thematically, her [character’s] going to Africa has an incredible effect on Hank. It marked the end of their relationship, but the beginning of her finding herself. And when he sees that she can be happy in a foreign land with only a shack and her knowledge of medicine, he sees that it’s possible to go out of your comfort zone and find your bliss.”
Royal Pains has gotten a two-season renewal from USA, and as production starts to gear up for next year’s Season 5, Feuerstein is glad to be giving the show’s fans a bonus with the holiday tale. After being a regular on such broadcast-network series as NBC’s Conrad Bloom and Good Morning, Miami, he’s pleased to be linked to an enduring success in the cable universe.
“Even hearing from friends who are on current shows where the given network is constantly changing its mind, making rash and panicked and neurotic decisions, it is such a relief to be on a cable channel that so clearly gets behind its product and continues to support it creatively … so much so, they’ve let us make a movie.”
Off-Season Greetings premieres Dec. 16 at 9pm ET/PT on USA Network.
Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network