Tonight is the season premiere of ROYAL PAINS (9pm on USA Network). I talked to executive producers Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski about what fans could expect in this season’s sixteen episodes. Will the Lawson brothers resolve the rift in their relationship? Will Evan find a way to make his business sense work with Hank’s opinion of how HankMed should work? Will we see their dad, Eddie R. Lawson again? Here’s what’s going on in the Hamptons.
TSR: IS THIS SEASON OF PERSONAL GROWTH FOR HANK?
ANDREW: It’s Hank stepping outside his comfort zone. He’s always unflappable, his integrity is never compromised – you know exactly what you’re getting with him. Because of what’s gone through with Evan, he takes things as they come, and embraces adventure. It puts him in precarious positions, especially with Boris, where he has to make decisions he hasn’t made before. We’re also introducing possible love interests for Hank: a pediatrician played by Kat Foster in the fifth episode – she brings great energy to the show. Another woman is a world class interpreter Hank meets through Boris in the seventh episode as part of their adventure, she’s played by Ina Barron.
TSR: WITH THE BIG EVAN STORY, IS THIS AN EVEN BIGGER SEASON FOR PAULO??
MICHAEL: Every year, we throw new challenges to Paulo and he meets the challenges and is able to take what we throw at him and not just tackle it, but make it better. The character grows every year and so does Paulo as an actor. He brings a dramatic side to a very funny character. Every year, we want to keep dimensionalizing his character. He’s no longer a guy who’s just trying to make a quick buck, he’s really trying to building a business. When the brothers reconcile – of course they will – one of the things Hank takes away is a respect for his brother as a businessman and an understanding of his capacity to do things that big brothers don’t often see in younger siblings.
ANDREW: I think that sums it up nicely. This divide between them over whether the business should stay the course is about them as brothers. It’s about trust and that’s what comes to a head. Tearing them apart is a way to bring them back together, stronger than they ever were before. The compromise is them acknowledging things they hadn’t recognized before. By the way, Paulo is directing the eleventh episode this season – it’s his first time directing.
TSR: LET’S TALK ABOUT GUEST STARS AND THE CAST AS A WHOLE.
ANDREW: Brooke D’Orsay (PAIGE) and Campbell Scott (BORIS) are series regulars this season. They’re part of the family as they head toward this wedding. Evan is dealing with his troubles with Hank, his hunger to grow the business, new conflicts in that relationship and we’ll play the adorable romance between Evan and Paige. We’ll get some fun out of it in the tenth episode with a “Meet the Parents” story: Eddie R. Lawson (Henry Winkler) meets the General (Paige’s father).
MICHAEL: So far, we’re very happy with the guest stars we’ve had: Donal Logue (in tonight’s season premiere) – he’s amazing and wise. Alexa Vega is in the second episode. Jay Chandrasekhar and Judy Greer just did an episode that I directed. John Cullum is also in an episode.
ANDREW: Speaking of keeping it all in the family, Ashley Williams guests in an episode – she worked with Mark on GOOD MORNING, MIAMI.
TSR: I LOVE DOCTOR SECANI, PLAYED BY BEN SHENKMAN. WHY DID YOU WRITE THAT CHARACTER WITH A SOCIAL IMPEDIMENT?
ANDREW: We thought it was really interesting to bring in a highly skilled doctor (in a specific way) but he lacks the ease that Hank has. It’s a way to bring in a new color, some comedy, some complications but not step on our hero’s turf.
MICHAEL: Dr. Secani is going to be with us for a good portion of the season. We’re loving the Evan/Hank rift of growing the business and want to play that story in an honest way with the brothers as colleagues. They grow in their relationship, and part of that is Evan hiring other doctors. Drs. Secani and Van Dyke (Kyle Howard) stick around for awhile. We’re having fun playing Evan against Dr. Secani.
ANDREW: Dr. Van Dyke is part of the HankMed 2.0 team Evan assembles. We have a storyline coming up in the eighth episode that Mark is directing and it’s a whole storyline about Van Dyke. We’ve been excited to do it for awhile – we find out more about him and what he does when he’s not at the hospital. We love Kyle Howard so much; it feels like an overdue opportunity to explore the character. He fits so naturally with the cast.
TSR: WITH ALL THE UPHEAVAL AT HANKMED, WHO GETS DIVYA? IS THERE A FIGHT OVER HER?
ANDREW: We can definitely say in the divorce proceedings, who gets Divya becomes one of the most important questions. We do end up playing joint custody as a story in one of the episodes.
MICHAEL: Reshma is always amazing. In the third episode, she gives her best performance yet. Jay Chandrasekhar directs the episode and she’s spectacular in that. Jay also has a cameo in the episode as one of the patients.
TSR: WHO MENDS THE BROTHERS’ RIFT? DOES EDDIE R. LAWSON RETURN TO HELP MEND FENCES?
MICHAEL: A few people try to put them together.
TSR: ANY OTHER TEASES YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
MICHAEL: One of the things that’ll be big this season is a Boris story; we love Campbell and we’re returning the danger and mystery of season one. Hank will join Boris on an adventure that will take Hank into Boris’ world.
Many thanks to Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch for taking time out from production to talk to me. ROYAL PAINS season premiere is TONIGHT, JUNE 6 AT 9PM ON USA.