Just weeks after USA Network's White Collar closed out Season 5, the fate of the series as a whole still remains in question. Normally at this time of year, the producers would be in pre-production to start shooting in March, but the USA Network has not made a final decision yet on whether or not to renew the hit series for Season 6.
Deadline reports that talks are ongoing between the producers and the network, but nothing meaningful has come out of the negotiations thus far. It is believed that there will be some sort of conclusion, since Season 5 featured a cliffhanger ending involving a mysterious man abducting Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer).
The network is considering an abbreviated final season, much like what Showtime did with The Big C's four-episode last season, although Fox Television Studios, which produces the show, prefers a full season. All of USA's other major programs - Monk, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and Psych - were given proper, full-season send-offs to close out their runs.
The show is still doing well in the ratings, with 2.8 million viewers tuning in to the Season 5 finale, although the show did suffer somewhat of a ratings hit earlier this season, since it was moved from the summer to the fall. Economics also come into play here, since, at this point in the series, USA Network is responsible for all of the production costs. There is speculation that Fox TV Studios is willing to put up the costs for the final season, while lowering its licensing fee. The network still wants to bring the show back, in some form, so we'll have to wait and see if the network and studio can come to an agreement. Fox TV Studios also produces a number of other USA shows, such as Graceland, which comes from White Collar creator Jeff Eastin, and the upcoming series Sirens.
If the show does come back, it will have to replace its writing staff and other crew members, who took other jobs due to the lengthy negotiations between Fox TV Studios and USA. Additionally, they will not have access to New York City crews until at least mid-April, when pilot season wraps up. The cast members' current options expire in April, meaning cast members are not available to pursue other jobs until the fate of the show is finalized.