"I got the [network's] phone call on Mother's Day of last year that 'CSI: Miami' was going off the air," the producer who launched a globally popular franchise by creating CBS'
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"
. "That was probably a premature departure.
"And I just had a phone call with
Gary Sinise a couple of days ago. It was almost 10 years ago that we sat down and had that conversation in the sagebrush in Calabasas [Calif.] about his coming to series television. Almost a decade later, it came to an end, but 'CSI: NY' had a great run. If you win the ring the first time out and you're me and you do two more shows, you think, 'It's easy.'
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"Now being a 44-year-old man who's been in the business for almost 15 years, I realize it's so hard to do great television," Zuiker adds. "It's so hard to stay on the air just for one season that, to go for 12 or almost 10 seasons, it's a blessing."
Zuiker keeps stepping up to the plate, too: After furnishing Yahoo! with last fall's online miniseries
"Cybergeddon" -- which starred
Missy Peregrym (
"Rookie Blue") and has a sequel in the works -- he's producing a "murder-mystery reality series" for ABC.
"Whodunnit?" premieres Sunday, June 23, with contestants using crime-solving techniques that won't be alien to "CSI" devotees.
If the nine-season life of "CSI: NY" is an indicator, Zuiker is content with how he does what he does. "Gary was so thankful for the opportunity," he notes of his recent phone chat with Sinise. "He said it was pretty much the best TV experience of his life, and for me, it's not so much how you start but how you end. To have a happy cast and something you can be very proud of is, I think, the best quality of life for this business."
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And with the Las Vegas forensic team still in operation -- heading toward Year 13 after Wednesday's (May 15) season-ending cliffhanger -- is another city destined to get a home-screen "CSI" unit after Miami and New York?
"It's really up to [CBS chief]
Les Moonves," Zuiker reasons. "It's hard to say. We had talks about other shows several years ago, but we want to make sure we don't go to the well too much.
"I think the way Les rolled the shows out made perfect sense; he did it in such a way that all three were very strong for a long time. And we're very happy the Las Vegas show is still on the air, with
Ted Danson and
Elisabeth Shue to carry it forward."