Friday, May 11, 2007

Who Are You? Ooh Ooh Ooh Ooh

In a TV season where 24 has been pretty much by the numbers and Lost, until recently, had completely lost its way, the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, now in its seventh season, has been compelling, inventive, and utterly entertaining, combining some terrific off-the-wall elements with the season-long search for one of the coolest serial slayers in TV history -- the Miniature Killer! Just about a month ago, I sent the producers of the series an e-mail to that effect, telling them what a huge fan I am of the show and thanking them for all the entertainment value I've received from them over the years.

So imagine my surprise when, just a few days later, I received an e-mail in reply from the show's Executive Producer, telling me what fans many on the show's writing staff were of me and my work, and inviting me down to the set to watch them shoot an episode.

Thus it was with great enthusiasm, and no small amount of gratitude, that I came traipsing onto the Universal Studios lot three weeks ago today to watch the filming of this season's final episode.

I was met at the door to the writers room by the aforementioned Executive Producer Naren Shankar (whose previous credits include The Chronicle, Farscape, Night Visions, seaQuest DSV, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Co-Executive Producer Doug Petrie (late of Tru Calling and a little something named Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and then escorted to the set to watch Director Kenneth Fink as he filmed several critical scenes for the final episode. While Doug went off to chat with several of the crew, Naren took me on a tour of the series' sets, particularly all the rooms of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, which are incredibly detailed. There are tiny touches all over Gil Grissom's office, like business cards under the glass of his desktop, for instance, that are never noticed on screen, but which help to add incredible verisimilitude to the scenes. When we got back to the live set, Naren got called into a meeting and left me in the capable hands of Doug, who spent most of the next hour discussing my run on The Amazing Spider-Man and much of my other work. I was both astonished and humbled by how much he knew about my career over the years.

As a quick aside, Doug and the equally-talented Jane Espenson co-wrote the two-part season finale of the Saturday morning series The Batman this year, introducing both the Martian Manhunter and my own creation Lucius Fox into the animated mix. When the episodes are rerun (and we all know they will be), I urge you to check them out.

Anyway, after a far too short conversation, Doug was also called away on business, and I was left to my own devices to watch the episode being filmed. Unfortunately, all the major cast members had finished their shooting on the set the day before, and were on their way to Las Vegas to shoot their final location scenes for the episode the next day, so I never got the chance to tell Marg Helgenberger about the terrible crush I've had on her since the days of China Beach, or to thank star William Petersen for causing me to buy my first black leather jacket after I fell in love with the one he was wearing in the film To Live and Die in LA. But, hopefully, there's always next year. After a fascinating few hours, I made my goodbyes to the crew and slipped quietly away. I figured I'd interrupted their regular routine enough for one day. Still, I owe Naren and Doug a debt I'll not soon easily repay.

There is still one really neat aspect to my little visit that I haven't mentioned yet. I know who the Miniature Killer is! Now, normally I'd take the secret with me to the grave, but since I know you guys won't blab it to anyone, I figure it's safe to share it with you. You ready? Brace yourselves. The Miniature Killer is actually...actually...

Hmm, now that's funny. For some strange reason, my bowl of Kellogg's Crispix with 2% milk tastes like burnt almonds. I wonder why that...


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