CSI Says Goodbye With a Totally Insane But Perfectly Fitting Series Finale …

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CSI Insiders Look Back Before Finale, Remember a ‘Lippy’ Young Justin Bieber and How Taylor Swift Made Them Realize They’d ‘Made It’.

After 15 seasons, 337 episodes, countless autopsies, several cast changes, three spin-offs and some of the most inventive murder investigations in TV history, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is ready to close the morgue drawer for good.Anthony Zuiker, 47, was not so far removed from his job driving a tram for a Sin City hotel when he managed to field the pilot for “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” for Jerry Bruckheimer TV and CBS in 2000.

If “CSI” had shuttered its labs a decade ago when it was TV’s most popular drama, its departure would have merited a spare-no-expense goodbye party, at least at the headquarters of CBS, which has benefited greatly from the show’s success.LOS ANGELES—How will the “CSI” special two-hour series finale address the romance between William Petersen’s Gil Grissom and Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle? As the now-iconic series airs its final two-hour installment on Sunday, several longtime cast members – including original star William Petersen, who returns as Gil Grissom for the finale – gathered recently at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills to look back on the fond memories, famous fans–turned–guest stars (Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift among them) and the creepy forensic details they’ll never forget. A well-arranged marriage of Zuiker with veteran showrunners Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue set “CSI” off on a journey that would change the course of TV history and spawn three spinoffs, most recently the Patricia Arquette starrer “CSI: Cyber.” With the mothership wrapping its 15-year run with a two-hour movie airing Sunday night, creator/exec producer Zuiker spoke with Variety about the emotional experience of writing the finale, reuniting with original “CSI” stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger and his deep appreciation for Mendelsohn, Donahue, CBS’ Nina Tassler, Leslie Moonves and others who helped him along the way. The series capper sees Grissom (William Petersen) and Willows reconnecting with the CSI team in Las Vegas to help solve a pivotal case that is threatening the entire city.

Petersen, 62, remembers recognizing the remarkable spark happening behind the scenes with the cast and creators even as the show caught fire out of the gate with audiences, pushing boundaries of graphic content and reinventing the crime procedural as it become one of the fourth-longest-running and one-time highest rated series on television. “The first year of the show was pretty remarkable in terms of the creative energy that was displayed on a daily basis from everybody that worked on it,” Petersen tells PEOPLE. “It was very group-created. Multiple witnesses identified the shooter who tried to kill a man on a Brooklyn street. “We caught the guy dead to rights, and the jury said, ‘Why didn’t you guys do DNA?’ ” recalled the former assistant district attorney who handled the case. Helgenberger spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why she didn’t miss her character after she left CSI, the surprising scene in the finale that kept causing her to well up with tears and whether the show should have called it quits after the core cast stepped away.

That testing for DNA is rare, time-consuming and expensive, particularly in such a straightforward investigation, didn’t register with those sitting in judgement. Those who have stuck with the series — or are overwhelmed with nostalgia — are being promised a satisfying ending that will manage to be upbeat despite the old gang’s investigation of numerous bombings. It was exhausting, but it was special.” Beyond being entranced by the newly sophisticated level of high-tech forensic investigation and the clever murder scenarios the show employed, fans also fell for the character’s personal dramas – most specifically Grissom’s slow-simmering romance with Jorja Fox’s fellow investigator Sara Sidle. “All we wanted to do was sort of have a real relationship that exists sometimes in the workplace where there’s a little thing that happens,” says Petersen. “And that becomes a little bit more of a thing. It would spawn two long-running spin-offs, set in Miami and New York, and recently gave birth to a third, “CSI: Cyber,” which now will survive it as the 15-season run of the original CSI comes to an end Sunday at 21:00 EDT. When I finished my last scene, I didn’t have tears — it could have been because it was late at night, and I had to catch an early flight the next morning. (Laughs.) But it happened on a crime scene, believe it or not.

The two-hour farewell brings back bygone stars including Marg Helgenberger (who played exotic-dancer-turned-investigator Catherine Willows until departing three seasons ago) and Petersen (who headlined for eight-plus seasons as lab boss Gil Grissom). Sunday, WCCO, Ch. 4 “Masterpiece” hopes “Downton Abbey” fans will travel to the Himalayan foothills for “Indian Summers,” a nine-part series with British rulers and oppressed Indians starting to buzz about independent rule in the 1930s. It felt really good to get a pat on the back from my dad … I have emotionally come to grips with the fact that TV shows have to go up and TV shows have to go down at some point.

CSI was something different, and while we didn’t know what it was going to be, we wanted a chance to figure it out.” He got his chance and loved the experience, he says, then moved on in 2008 to pursue theater work. (Now he is joining another series, WGN America’s Manhattan, for its second season starting 13 October) Petersen observes that just weeks after CSI premiered, a much-disputed presidential election left many Americans confused and disillusioned. Sunday, TPT, Ch. 2 Rob Lowe and Fred Savage don’t do much to shake up their on-screen personas in “The Grinder,” a new sitcom about a sweaty attorney and his TV star brother, who inexplicably decides to ditch Hollywood to try cases in the family firm.

I didn’t know if it was the combination of seeing the team together and doing what they do best — here I am all these years later, and they’re still passionate about what they do. This all cemented a period of what Petersen calls “postmodern vagueness,” with people doubting themselves and their world and wondering, “What does it mean? Despite the predictable casting, the two veterans seem enthusiastic, perhaps because the script is considerably smarter than most passing today’s network-sitcom bar. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, KMSP, Ch. 9 If you’re in need of emergency care, avoid most TV hospitals, where doctors seem to think the operating room is a place to show off their boldness and disregard for the rules. “Code Black” is no exception, although the perilous visit is worthwhile just to see the always entertaining Marcia Gay Harden bark at residents who couldn’t quite make the cut at “Grey’s Anatomy.” 9 p.m.

Where is the truth?” “What our show did was give you the truth,” he declares. “You can be confused about many things, but this little piece of lint that we found on the floor, you can count on that. There’s a big fan favorite that’s returning — Melinda Clarke, who played a character that appeared several times on the show by the name of Lady Heather.

And that gave me the inspiration to go below the tape with a forensic police drama and take a forensic point of view.” Problem is, “CSI” made things too cool. It often featured technology that was on the cutting edge of forensic science, innovations unavailable to the average police department — and even untested.

As Grissom told his colleagues on an early episode: forget personalities, ambitions and assumptions. “Concentrate on what cannot lie: the evidence,” he said. Then, there’s homages throughout the whole episode — lines that were memorable [earlier in the series], somebody repeats that line [in the finale], [but] not necessarily the same character. (Laughs.) My daughter returns, who’s now grown. The defense would always ask why law enforcement hadn’t looked for fingerprints on the plastic bags containing drugs, but “it never worked back then.

The trip ends on Sunday, “by offering the fans who’ve been loyal so long with an opportunity to say goodbye to the people they fell in love with at the start,” says Danson, who vows, “It will be very satisfying.” “Right now, I really feel maniacally happy about it,” she says, having spent most of 15 seasons as forensics scientist Sara Sidle. “I feel like, wow, look at this amazing run we were able to have! They were like, ‘You’re crazy, no one’s going to do that on a drug case.’ The only time fingerprinting occurred was on burglary and in homicide cases, and jurors were fine with it.” Now, Steiner said, half a prosecutor’s speech to prospective jurors explains how they “really don’t have ‘CSI’-type evidence, and ‘this isn’t ‘CSI,’ ” he said.

You get into a rhythm, and when that is removed, you’re like, “Wait a second!” (Laughs.) I was really looking forward to a break, which I enjoyed for the first few months, and then it was like, “Hmmm.” (Laughs.) When I actually got around to shooting [the finale], I realized I was really glad to be back in her suits and her boots and her swagger and her savvy and her sass. On drug cases in particular, juries sometimes reject logic in favor of some kind of technological evidence, says New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan. In one scene he was looking at a bunch of bomb parts on the table and in his imagination (added later with vfx) he sees the parts lifting off the table and coming together as a bomb. Some cases simply don’t require expensive forensic science or high- tech TV wizardry, where show after show has a security camera on every block ready to catch footage of a crime, or a super-convenient database full of handy information, or lab results that are back in the blink of an eye, Brennan said. “Jurors should want certainty, I think that’s a good thing. It’s serious because we’re trying to get to the bottom of a very serious situation and stop this person before they commit a crime again, but there are plenty of light moments and plenty of sassy moments.

We don’t have a database with everyone in the city in it and the car they drive and their fingerprints,” she said. “And if we did, many civil libertarians would object to that.” Investigators spotted a drug deal between a man and a woman go down in a Bedford-Stuyvesant car, but when they tried to slap the cuffs on the driver, all hell broke loose, said Kati Cornell, a spokeswoman for Brennan’s office. I never really doubted [leaving] — sometimes, you just instinctively know that you need a break, and I knew that I needed a break then and there. [But] just the camaraderie we had on the set was just so amazing — and not just the cast. The driver had been arrested in a different drug case just six days earlier, and had past convictions for drug and weapons possession, but jurors cleared him of the top charge of third degree drug possession with intent to sell in the June 2012 case — because the investigators who tangled with the unruly man couldn’t testify they’d seen the drugs fall out of his pockets.

I never expected this to happen — I never expected to have a “wrap it all up in a two-hour [movie].” But if they had been given another full season or even a half a season, I’m sure they would have asked Billy [Petersen] and I to return for some or all of the season, and that’s a question I would have had to answer when that was presented to me. The show is limited only by imagination, not reality, so there are “all kinds of techniques that haven’t been validated, and some that haven’t been invented yet,” he said. The short answer is no. ‘CSI’ being my first TV script the last thing on my mind was ‘Is this a format that can last for 16 years.’ I was new to television and new to the industry. Even those accused of crimes don’t always realize TV science doesn’t measure up to real life, said criminal defense lawyer Melanie Marmer, a former prosecutor. “The clients ask you, ‘Why can’t they check my fingerprints and see that I was never there?’ . . . They just don’t do that in real life,” she said. “Or, ‘Didn’t they fingerprint the gun?’ You usually can’t get fingerprints from the gun.

Maybe a thumbprint, but it really depends on the type of gun and the type of grip.” “It’s become so boilerplate that I could mouth the words,” he quipped. “They’ll talk about ‘blue lights,’ about how no one is coming in and putting a blue light over a bed sheet and finding semen, and then they joke, ‘You don’t want to put a blue light over a bed sheet in a motel anyway.’ ” In cases that do use forensic evidence, meanwhile, mistakes can creep in, says Erin Murphy, a professor at NYU and author of the new book, “Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic Science.” “Basically, if you watch these shows, they make it seem like the analyst just rolls onto the scene (usually in a skimpy T-shirt), swabs a couple objects, and then gets unimpeachable evidence of the suspect’s guilt,” she says. “But in reality, analysts must painstakingly take samples from a wide array of places and things, usually without knowing whether those efforts will pay off, and then have each tested to see whether there is any usable evidence. The testing process itself also involves a lot more subjectivity and precision than allowed in a fast-paced Hollywood drama.” “More science isn’t a bad thing if it helps ensure that only those whose guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt be convicted,” said defense attorney Mark Bederow. “The truth of the matter is, technology has advanced . . . someone’s life and liberty is at stake,” said Steiner. “I’ve won gun-possession cases where the prosecutor has argued that they cannot lift fingerprints off [a gun].

I’ve had jurors approach me after and say that’s why they didn’t convict my client, because of a lack of evidence.” During trial, prosecutors keyed in on a bloody fingerprint from Cortez, found on a wall in Woods’ apartment. Every year, it always becomes harder when a show becomes really popular — three spinoffs and numerous shows that were inspired by CSI, so the idea gets watered down, and it gets hard to keep it fresh — it’s hard to keep new inventive ways of presenting the science.

The only thing I can really compare it to would be to shooting a pilot episode of something, whether it be the pilot episode of CSI or the pilot episode of China Beach or the pilot episode of Intelligence, the show I did with Josh Holloway, because there’s so much emphasis on every shot, every scene being just so. Right after the announcement (of the finale movie) at the upfronts we threw ourselves into a room at Bruckheimer’s office and we broke this thing in a couple of weeks. Because of the length of time that I did the show, it’s hard not to compare anything you do from this point forward to CSI because that was a real chunk of my career was devoted to CSI. There’s a point where John Benjamin Hickey’s character (Frank Winter) says, “Who are you?” I go, “I am the United States of America” (laughs). I wrote this (spec movie) called ‘The Runner.’ A buddy of mine, Dustin Abraham, when he first got to L.A. in ’97, he gave it to an agent at William Morris.

When I get there Scott has my script and says ‘This is really good, do you have another one?’ I said, ‘This is what I got.’ They signed me right there. I went into (Littman’s) office with lime-green index cards and talked to him about ‘CSI.’ He told me we had to get into this narrow window of pitching season. He called up Nina (Tassler, then head of drama at CBS) and told her ‘I don’t know if you’ll buy it but this will be the most entertaining 20 minutes of your life.’ By the grace of god Nina Tassler in October hears this pitch. Jonathan told me ‘Don’t run around like you usually do because her office is small.’ And Jonathan told me ‘If you don’t sell it today it’s dead.’ So that was my motivation. (Tassler) told me ‘We’re going younger right now with a show we just bought called ‘Survivor.’ If you write me something great I will fight to get it on the air.’ I wrote the script in three days and the rest is history.

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