July 19 2024

CSI Files

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‘CSI’ Accepts Award For Socially Conscious Episode

3 min read

As CSI Files previously reported, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the episode “Coup de Grace”, which received one of eight Television Academy Honors at an award ceremony Wednesday, May 5 in Beverly Hills, California. The awards paid tribute to programming that represents “television with a conscience”.

(There are two embedded videos after the jump—please be warned that one of the videos may make a sound when the page loads.)

Actor George Eads (Nick Stokes) was at the ceremony with executive producer Carol Mendelsohn to accept the award. “Coup de Grace” was honored for its depiction of racial prejudice in the police force. “When we first started the show, [William] Petersen (Gil Grissom) said to me, ‘Can we do something significant? Can we tell a story that will have impact, that will impact the world? Can you write an episode that people will remember?’ That always stuck with me,” Mendelsohn told the Academy. “Billy really was saying to me, ‘I think we’re going to be cancelled in 13 episodes, so can you at least make the show a critically acclaimed failure?’ But we all listened to what Billy said, and we have tried over the years to tell stories of conscience.”

“It’s not that we set out at the beginning of the season [saying], ‘We’re going to tell four stories that have important subjects,'” Mendelsohn clarified. “But they come from our writers, stories that they want and need to tell, and David Rambo and [Richard] Catalani came to me with the story for ‘Coup de Grace’, a story about racial profiling that had nothing really black and white about it.”

The episode “was about a white cop who shot an off-duty black cop,” Mendelsohn explained, adding that there were twists and turns but, in the end, science revealed the truth. “It was such a compelling story and so provocative and a real character study of this white cop, and he was played by Jack Blessing, who was one of the most amazing guest stars that we’ve ever had,” she said. “With Laurence Fishburne (Dr Ray Langston), who is just the consummate movie star that can make these small moments just come to life, and George Eads and Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows), we just had one terrific episode, so it was both entertaining and provocative.”

It was important to tell the story, Eads said. “We have a responsibility as a show that gets a high rating and a high amount of viewers every week to take a little bit of a social responsibility and teach the audience a thing or two instead of just [providing] an entertainment factor,” he shared. “When it comes to an episode that deals with some racial prejudice, I think it’s important for us to delve pretty deep into it and handle it in a professional manner.”

“On the surface, it looks like we’re dealing with some hardcore racism and straight up bigotry,” Eads told Entertainment Tonight of the episode’s plot. “Our team was trying to get to the bottom of what happened in a fair way based upon the evidence, although we were getting all these signals from both sides that it was a racial issue. We just tried to maintain our composure and get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible, in the most professional way possible, and [the episode] was deemed socially conscious.”

Fans can find pictures of Eads and Mendelsohn at the Emmy website. Paris Barclay is also featured in some of the photos. He directed “Coup de Grace” as well as another Television Academy Honor recipient, the Glee episode “Wheels”. “Wheels” focused on several stories, including important disability issues. There are also pictures of Barclay, Mendelsohn and Eads from the event on Life.com.

You can find the videos featuring the previous quotes embedded below:

Sources: The Associated Press, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and ET Online. Thanks to speedystokesgirl and Blackflag from TalkCSI for the links.

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