The Hollywood Reporter put out their annual list of “TV’s Top 50 Showrunners”, and the women behind all three CSI series made the cut.
The list is compiled based on five major criteria: direct responsibility for creative output, prolificness, reputation among studio and network executives, Nielsen ratings and Emmy attention and/or critical praise. Major executive producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and CSI creator Anthony Zuiker were not included, but Carol Mendelsohn (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Ann Donahue (CSI: Miami) and Pam Veasey (CSI: New York) did make the list. All three women have been with the franchise since their shows began, but they aren’t bored yet. “It’s a constant dance,” Donahue explained.
For Mendelsohn, Zuiker’s return to CSI has been a godsend. In addition to her work on CSI, this fall she will serve as an executive producer on the new CBS series The Defenders. “I felt the universe sent me a guardian angel in Anthony,” Mendelsohn said.
Over on New York, Veasey has been dealing with the departure of leading lady Melina Kanakaredes (Stella Bonasera). Sela Ward (Jo Danville) has taken her place in the cast. “It happened almost at the 11th hour,” Veasey revealed. “We had scripts prepared and we had to do rewriting and think of ways to introduce her without being repetitive to our viewers.”
Veasey’s favorite TV moment came when she was working on the police drama The District. “[W]e received a letter from a woman who watched an episode in which [star] Craig T Nelson visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” she said. “When Craig placed his hand on the wall in the episode, he put it right on her son’s name. She was so grateful. That meant a lot to us.”
Donahue has been with Miami for years, but her big break came while working on a very different crime drama in the early 1990s. “The man who taught me everything was David Levinson, the executive producer on 21 Jump Street,” she explained. “He just has this ethos that he wants to pass on his skills.”