CBS will go to the "CSI" well again this fall with a third edition of the drama franchise that has transformed the eye network during the past three years.
"CSI: New York" will be a forensic procedural drama like its predecessors "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: Miami," but there also will be some significant changes to the formula, according to co-creator Anthony Zuiker, who executive produces the "CSI" shows with Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue and Jerry Bruckheimer.
For starters, the show will eschew a large ensemble cast in favor of focusing heavily on the work and the lives of two main characters, a man and a woman who work together as investigators. There are no formal casting deals in the works yet for the show, and Zuiker won't reveal his wish list.
"We want to open it up to the main characters earlier than we have on the other shows," Zuiker said. The seeds for "CSI: New York" will be planted in this season's second-to-last episode of "CSI: Miami," in which investigators from "Miami" will be called to New York to investigate a murder involving a Miami resident.
Zuiker, Donahue and Mendelsohn, who will co-create "CSI: New York," plan to head to the Big Apple early next month to learn more about how forensics investigators work in the nation's largest city and to get a feel for its visuals.
"We want to amp up the visual style on this show and really make New York a character," Zuiker said. "We'll have a lot of hand-held camera work to really get us out on the streets."
For Zuiker, "CSI: New York" will also mark his coming-out as a showrunner. He was a TV novice with only a few feature screenwriting credits to his name when "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" bowed in fall 2000. Nowadays, Mendelsohn primarily oversees production on the mother ship "CSI," which ranks as primetime's most-watched series, while Donahue is the showrunner on "Miami."
After learning the ropes from Mendelsohn and Donahue, Zuiker said he is anxious to get to work on his new baby, albeit in close consultation with his mentors.
"I have had the honor of learning the art of showrunning from these two great ladies," Zuiker said. "Now the chance to fly solo really is a big thing for me."