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Telgenhoff: If You Want To Be Like Grissom, Go To Acting School

By Carolina
September 30, 2005 - 9:57 PM

Gary Telgenhoff, forensic consultant for CSI, was key in the creation of the show.

A forensic pathologist and deputy medical examiner at the Clark County Coroner's Office in Las Vegas, Telgenhoff was one of the first people Anthony Zuiker sought out to learn more about crime scene investigation. Back then, he revealed, he never imagined Zuiker's research would amount to much.

"It was about six months later that he came to visit me at my workplace and he gave me a bottle of wine and a thank you card and a video tape," Telgenhoff recalled. "He said, 'Here's the Pilot.' I said 'What, do you think someone might use it, some TV show or something?' He said, 'CBS bought my first 13 episodes for $1 million.'"

Though Telgenhoff continues consulting the writers he admits there's a world of difference between real and fictional CSIs, and warned CSI wannabes about the misconception the show creates. "CSI, so you want to be one? Go to acting school, because that's what you're talking about if you're watching TV. CSIs do not direct all that activity. We are very much at the service of everyone else. They have an extremely important job, and a hard job, and collecting all the evidence. If they screw up they could screw up the whole case."

Telgenhoff also admitted real-life labs do not have the high-tech machinery they have on the shows. "They have equipment there to die for. We don't have anything like that. Hollywood basically exaggerates to get an audience, and they did a good job of it because they've been No. 1 all these years," he said.

That's not to say a CSI's job is insignificant, just not as flashy as they make it seem on television. Telgenhoff revealed in real life it's more about the families of the victims. "A lot of times the anguish families have is just not knowing what happened, and once they know what happened, they can move on and start to grieve."

Visit the Brookings Register to read the rest of the interview.

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