Hard to know how it might have fared, though, if Korsh's original vision of a show about investment bankers had prevailed.
There may be a zillion jokes about society's supposed hatred of lawyers and yet people haven't stopped watching legal shows. Is there something so repellent about investment bankers that no one's willing to make a show about them?
"That's a good question," Korsh said, laughing, in a recent phone interview. "The conventional wisdom is that no one will watch a show about Wall Street guys. I think that they tried it once with a show called 'The Street' . . . and no one watched it. And I feel like there are plenty of shows that no one watches. You can't be sure why."
When a legal or medical show fails, "nobody thinks it's because of the genre."
Switching the jobs of the guys in the "Suits," he said, had less to do with likability than with practicality. "Look, investment bankers . . . they're below the rung of lawyers in the public's perception these days. So I think it's a tough hurdle to put on a show on about investment bankers. But the reason we redeveloped this from Wall Street to lawyers was actually because USA doesn't do purely serialized drama," he said. "It has to be like a case of the week. I believe it's their business model."
USA's sharply branded business model is one of the wonders of the West Coast world, with even broadcast networks trying to decipher the formula that's yielded a crop of dependable, lightly serialized shows.
Korsh doesn't see it as a formula, exactly.
"We tried to retain the essence and flavor of what I wrote and I didn't write it originally to be made for USA. However, and I think USA is trying to push the boundaries a little bit with our show, in terms of . . . language - we're going to use language that other USA shows don't use - also, just in terms of our characters having a certain edge to them," he said.
"Look, they know their brand so well . . . There are guidelines that if you stray from them, they are going to let you know."
With what, an electric shock?
He laughed. "No, you get notes," as with any network. "I actually think that it's to their tremendous credit that you know to some degree or another what you're getting" in a USA show.
The Cheltenham High grad (Class of '84) didn't necessarily know what he'd be getting when he headed to Wall Street.
"The movie 'Wall Street' came out when I was a senior," he said. "I worked there for a number of years and I just didn't - I didn't like it. It took me a while to kind of figure out it wasn't for me," a realization that was helped along after a former college roommate died in a "freak accident" at 25, reminding Korsh that "life is precious, it can end at any time."
Of investment banking, he said, "It was just a very serious environment . . . It seemed to me to be about working really hard to make a lot of money."
Taking a couple of years off, he "traveled and had fun," eventually landing in Los Angeles.
"I'd lived here for one year when I was like 5 years old. I'd always wanted to come and try living here, so I did. And while I was here, I worked vaguely in that [financial] industry again. But I had a couple of friends [from Penn] who'd made a successful run at being television writers," he said.
"They said, if you want to write for television, you have to get a job . . . as a writers' assistant," he said. "I got lucky enough . . . to get a job on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' " as a production assistant.
"It was a little odd. I was like 31. Usually, people are 21," but "Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal "was so great. He was so generous. He really made a place for me," and "I wrote one episode . . . It was called 'Fairies.' It was when Ray found out Debra had signed up their sons to be fairies in the school play."
Korsh's father, James, a Temple computer science professor, and his mother, Nina, a psychologist, now live in Rittenhouse Square. He gets back to visit about twice a year, he said.
In the original version of "Suits," he said, the Mike Ross character, was from Philly..
"I always wanted to keep it that way . . . But [for production reasons] it just ended up not working." *
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