Corey Miller

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 24, 2009 - 3:43 PM GMT

After eight and a half years as part of the CSI franchise, Corey Miller has made the decision to leave CSI: Miami's writing staff. In an exclusive interview with CSI Files, Miller shares the impetus behind his decision, what he's going to miss most about working on CSI: Miami and which among the episodes he's penned are his favorites--as well as sharing some scoop about the final episodes of season seven. Some spoilers ahead!

CSI Files: After being with CSI: Miami since the show's first season, you're leaving the writing staff. What brought about your decision to leave?

Corey Miller: Simply put, I am just ready to write something different. I started back on the "mother ship" CSI eight and a half years ago, before it premiered, when I was the assistant to Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn. And what a fun, crazy ride it's been. I was given some amazing opportunities. After being able to write three freelance episodes (two for CSI and one for Miami in its first season), [CSI: Miami Executive Producer] Ann Donahue hired me as a full-time writer on Miami. And I just completed my sixth season as a writer on that show. All told, I was fortunate to have been able to write 24 episodes, and break well over a hundred stories. And that's a lot of murder! I'm just itching to tell different types of stories now.

CSI Files: When did you decide to leave the show?

Miller: Very recently. I had a notion that this might be my last season early on, but kept waffling. This has been the job of a lifetime--was I insane to think about leaving? A million thoughts ran through my head. But I am convinced that sometimes you have to close one door to open a new one. And I just thought this was the time to take a shot.

CSI Files: What was the hardest part of your decision to leave the show?

Miller: The hardest part, I guess, is the fact I'm stepping outside my comfort zone. I know the show inside and out, have a shorthand with the cast, crew, writers, and our production partners, I've grown in seniority, and have had guaranteed income for many years. It was a great place to get to, and it took a lot of work. So, to willingly give that up, I've had to do a lot of soul-searching. But again, I felt like this was the time to take a stab at it. No pun intended.

CSI Files: What will you miss most about CSI: Miami?

Miller: The writing staff. We all got along so well, it was almost unprecedented. Even in our darkest hours, the times when we had a fast-approaching deadline and seemingly no stories in the world left to tell, we were able to laugh ourselves stupid and somehow get the job done. In the entertainment business, where egos run wild, you won't find a more down-to-earth group of people. I really feel like I have made friends for life.

I'll also miss what we were able to accomplish on a television budget. Our production team does so much with (relatively) little money. They rarely, if ever, said "you can't do that." Which is why we've had plane crashes, tsunamis, boat hijackings, hurricanes, fires, explosions, high falls, sinkholes, crane crashes... you name it. Getting to work with so many talented people who always wanted to push themselves to do more, and never settling for the standard, was so great.

CSI Files: What was your most rewarding experience on the show?

Miller: I really felt proud when Miami took the crown as the most watched show in the world. It was such a great honor.

CSI Files: Is there anything you won't miss about working on CSI: Miami?

Miller: I won't miss having to think of ways to kill people every day, that's for sure! Not that I take it home with me, or something, because I never have. But to generate new stories practically every week, my brain's been set on "murder" for some time. You don't know how often I would look at the most benign object and think, "you could kill someone with that." So it will be refreshing to turn to the "lighter" parts of the human experience. I also won't miss the research. Ironically, in school, I always hated science. I don't have the attention span nor the brain capacity.

CSI Files: Can you shed any light on the "lost" episode of CSI: Miami from second season, "Officer Down," in which Calleigh (Emily Procter) gets shot? (story) Why did that episode never get filmed?

Miller: Wow. I can honestly say I don't remember that story in the slightest. I may have been out of the writers' room, working on an episode. For that synopsis to have gotten on CSI Files, though, it must have gotten pretty far into the script stage. All I can say is, a few times over the past many seasons, we have worked on episodes that just didn't "work." Sometimes we realize this in the initial story phase, but other times they actually get written before we realize that they can't be fixed with one or more rewrites. So things have been thrown out entirely. This must have been one of those times.

CSI Files: Of all the episodes you've written for the show, do you have a favorite, or a few favorites? What makes those episodes stand out for you?

Miller: I definitely have some episodes that I look back on fondly, for different reasons. I'll always have a soft spot for "Tinder Box", since it was my first. I like how "Under the Influence" turned out because of the emotionality, because of the huge personal stakes for Calleigh when her father came to her, believing he killed someone while driving drunk. I like the visceral quality of "Nailed", and because of how twisted it is. I think "Triple Threat" is just fun to watch. It was fun making "Going Ballistic" because I felt like I was actually on the set of a Jerry Bruckheimer action film. But I think my favorite might be "Wrecking Crew", first because I loved watching our amazing crew pull off the crane stunt in the teaser, but also because I think it's just a nice story with a good balance of emotion, spectacle, and mystery, which I think is the best template of a Miami episode.

CSI Files: Looking back at your work on CSI: Miami, is there any one thing (storyline, character arc, character, episode) of which you're the most proud?

Miller: Well, I wouldn't use the word "proud," necessarily, but there are a lot of things peppered throughout the last six seasons that were personally fulfilling for me to get on the air. I go back to when I was a kid writing short stories and getting excited when people read them. Think of that, on a huge scale. Just the fact that I can pitch "identical triplets plot a murder" to my boss and it turns into a story, then a script, and then we're on set not even two weeks later shooting it with actors, and then it's on the air soon afterwards, and millions of people are watching--it's just really gratifying.

CSI Files: You were instrumental in the development of the character of Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo), penning the episode that introduced him and several other important ones for the character. Are you pleased with his arc throughout the series? Is there a particular direction you'd like to see him taken in?

Miller: It was great for Marc Dube and I to have some part in creating Wolfe, in "Under the Influence." And then for me to have a hand in shooting him in the eye with a nail gun a few years later. I joked with Jon Togo, "I brought you into this world, now I can take you out of it." Wolfe has definitely been through the ringer on the series. A lot of credit has to be given to Togo himself, who told the writers early on that he wasn't afraid to be wrong, or to be a hothead, or to be fallible. He may regret having ever said that, but we always looked at Wolfe as the odd man out. Even though he's a great CSI and was instantly a strong member of the team, I do believe he knows that he was living in Tim Speedle's (Rory Cochrane) shadow for a time. And that Delko (Adam Rodriguez) resented him for "daring" to take his place. I do think that Wolfe has had a decent arc over the years, as procedural shows go, but one thing I think we should have explored more were his quirks. He was introduced as being OCD, and a little off beat, but we trended away from that a bit. I also really wanted to have had the chance to explore his family life. We literally know nothing about him, except that he has an Uncle Ron ("Crime Wave"). But hey. There's always season eight. Ha.

CSI Files: What was it like writing your last episode, "Dead on Arrival"? Can you tell us anything about the episode?

Miller: It was a blast to work on. We created our own reality show, called The Marrying Kind. A dozen women are trapped in a house, vying for a man and their share of a million dollars. And let's just say the road to matrimony is paved with blood, in true Miami fashion. I loved being able to gently poke reality shows. I also have to say that I've never laughed so much during the filming of an episode. I got to pull out all the sarcastic stops on this one. Deitrich Bader plays the host, Myles Martini, and he is hilarious. Another highlight: Adrianne Palicki, who plays "Tyra" on my favorite show, Friday Night Lights, is in it, and calls another girl a "syphilitic slut." Who says I can't find a job after this?

CSI Files: After several seasons that were mostly episodic, CSI: Miami really delved into several arc-based stories this season--Delko's heritage, Delko and Calleigh's romance, Ryan's friendship with his Gambler's Anonymous sponsor and his son. What was the impetus for that?

Miller: There are a few reasons. First, it being our seventh season, we felt we earned the right to open up the characters some more, and finally break the old CSI mantra, "Never go home with them." Doing so opens up a ton of story possibilities, and re-energizes the show. Secondly, we also feel like it revitalizes the actors. It's hard to play similar "look what I found" evidence scenes over and over again. So delving into their real lives helps them explore different sides of their characters, and the show is so much better for it. Shows need to constantly grow and change in some way, while staying true to the basics that people expect. All the writers are avid television watchers, and we know what brings people back every week is not just their desire to be entertained, but to continue the relationship they have with the characters they love. So giving our characters more personal stories helps that relationship not grow stale.

CSI Files: Miami delved into a relationship between two regular characters when Eric and Calleigh got together. What made the writing team decide to finally take the pair to the next level?

Miller: Again, it was mostly just to bring forth some new story possibilities. Without turning the show into a soap opera, we wanted to gradually explore these two growing closer over the years and then attempting a love relationship. Each had to shed some baggage and find discover each other with fresh eyes. So we went into it very, very slowly, as we would expect the characters would do. They already had a close friendship, but we wanted to show that Eric and Calleigh had both matured to the point that they felt like they owed it to themselves to give it a try.

CSI Files: What do you think the future of Eric and Calleigh's relationship will be? Do they have a shot to make it in the long run?

Miller: I guess I will have to tune in like everyone else now, to see what the future holds in store for them. I do think that their relationship does have potential, though. Both are great people, with integrity, and with an affinity for family. I could definitely see them settling down at some point.

CSI Files: Ryan crossed the line in a pretty major way when he falsified evidence in a case in "Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing". Will he end up paying for that down the road?

Miller: As for direct ramifications, we don't get into that by the end of season seven. The main thing we wanted to do was show how the Russian Mob could get to our people and try and divide them. It wasn't about Ryan getting reprimanded for the tenth time. But I do think that Ryan will carry that experience with him for the rest of his days, wondering if he did the right thing. I do feel like he goes with his gut instincts very often, which can get him into trouble.

CSI Files: What do you think of the new coroner, Dr. Tara Price (Megalyn Echikunwoke)? She's hiding a pretty major secret from the team with her apparent addiction to pain medication. Will she be found out this season? Will that affect her position as ME?

Miller: All I can say about that storyline is that her secret will eventually be discovered by one of the CSIs. How that plays out and what becomes of it I will have to leave to the viewer to discover in the next few weeks.

CSI Files: Can we expect a showdown between Horatio (David Caruso) and Ivan Sarnoff (Andrew Divoff) this season?

Miller: Most definitely. Everything comes to a head between the CSIs and the Russian Mob in the season finale. That episode is one of our most action-oriented ever. It moves like a runaway train.

CSI Files: Can you shed any light on the end of the season? What can fans expect from the final episodes of season seven?

Miller: We have some cool episodes coming up. My last episode, "Dead on Arrival," is just fun and games. But after that, we rocket towards the end of the season by pulling out all the stops. A bomb goes off in a crowded restaurant. Horatio's relationship with Julia Winston (Elizabeth Berkley) comes to a fork in the road, influenced by the increased presence of Ron Saris (Kim Coates). Delko is reunited with his father again, which increases tension between him and Calleigh. And the Russian Mob makes their final play in their quest to take over Miami, which incites World War III. No one will be disappointed.

CSI Files: You've had a lot of interaction with CSI: Miami fans through your blog in season four and e-mail. What do you feel characterizes fans of this series?

Miller: You know, it was tough doing that blog, but I really appreciated it in the end, because it put me in touch with so many fans from all over the world. It was gratifying to meet so many nice, smart people who really pay attention to our work. And I learned a huge lesson from them. It wasn't just about presenting interesting murder mysteries every week. Fervent fans paid equal attention to the slightest things that the main characters said about their own personal lives, because they really wanted to know more about them every week. So it made me try to honor that in the episodes I wrote. I strived to put in those little extra character moments, because the true fans really appreciated them. I guess I realized that our characters were also little mysteries in themselves. And it was fun to be able to try and unlock little layers of them. I will take that into any show I do in the future. You don't need characters to have huge soliloquies in order to realize how they tick. You just need to make them real, and gradually dole out small portions of their characters. I now believe that is what primarily makes people come back week-to-week.

CSI Files: What's next for you?

Miller: I've spent the last few weeks since I cleaned out my office getting to know people in the industry, and it's been great. Thanks to my run with the CSI franchise, I've been able to meet executives at every major network and studio, to check out what's coming down the pike. All I know is, I'd love to end up on a character-based drama with some humor in it. I also wrote my own pilot on spec, and it would be a dream come true to be able to get that produced. I'm excited!

If you don't mind, before I go, I'd like to say a quick "thank you" to all of the CSI fans who have kept me employed for these many years by watching our shows. The experience really did change my life. And thank you, Kristine, for all your thoughtful reviews over the years! CSI Files is a great site -- keep up the great work.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.