Bruckheimer, Showrunners Talk 'CSI' Differences

By Christian
November 17, 2004 - 1:09 PM

Although outsiders often find it hard to distinguish between the three CSIs hardcore fans mostly owe their allegiance to specific cast members, for the producers, the difference between the three shows lies in the kind of stories they feature.

"The Vegas one is all about nighttime secrets, and the Miami one is all about being seen, literally," CSI: Miami executive producer Ann Donahue said while appearing on Dennis Miller's CNBC talk show, along with her fellow CSI producers. "People in Miami - they're not dressed much to start with. People go to Vegas to hide and act out their secrets, and then in Miami they do them in public. And New York is its own animal."

Franchise head honcho Jerry Bruckheimer pointed out each CSI series has its own unique visual style, even though network worries prevented him from making the shows as distinct as he would have liked. "[On CSI: New York], we started out a little blue and darker, and then CBS got a little upset that we got a little too dark, so we had to lighten it up a little bit, but still it's got a real edgy look to it."

Obviously, there's more that unites the CSIs than what divides them, and the most important common element is the focus on forensic crime solving. Franchise creator Anthony Zuiker related how the concept for the series coalesced in his mind during a research trip with a real-life police force. "They were like, yeah, go ahead, come along," Zuiker said. "So night number two, I'm driving along, when there's a sexual assault case down in a motel and we're going to respond. What happened is a female lured another female into a hotel from a bar, and three guys took advantage of her. Cops come, we come, hree guys are in custody, the girl who was assaulted is in protective custody, and they can't find the girl who lured her in - so cut to Zuiker."

"I'm there with my little pad and pencil and I walk in, and they go, hey kid, here's a comb, go ahead and comb for biologicals. So I'm on my hands and knees combing for biologicals, and I lift up the bedskirt, and all of a sudden, RAAGH," Zuiker said, as he imited a clawing motion. "Two eyes, [she scratches] my face, and I go, 'Waah! There's this person under there!' And the police come out, 'Freeze!,' while I'm like, 'Please, I'm just a writer!' And then CSI was born."

Besides practical crime scene experience, Zuiker also brought forensic theory to the table. "[Original CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn] and I both learned this from Anthony," Donahue said. "Anthony told us about Locard's Theory, which is that when two objects come together, they take part of the other one with them. So if there's a dead person there, the person who killed him will leave a part of him, and vice versa. So the show is really about finding those parts and putting them together."

In the full edition of Dennis Miller's show, which will hopefully be repeated eventually on CNBC, the producers related several more tales from their real-life forensic research, while Bruckheimer discussed his many other projects. Massive thanks go out to Chris Fullman for this!

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