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Solving the crime

‘CSI’ creator talks his latest project, an interactive combination of book, movie and website.

With his hit TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” creator and executive producer Anthony Zuiker turned forensic science into a sexy, glamorous profession — and along the way, helped to change prime time dramas forever. Now the 42-year-old has released “Dark Prophecy,” the second chapter of his “Level 26” digi-novel saga, a new mix between a book, movie and website.

Where does the “Level 26” idea comes from?

Two years ago, during the scriptwriter strike in Hollywood, I was put on mandatory vacation from “CSI” for three months. During this time, I thought of new ways to tell stories differently. And I didn’t want to write just another psychological thriller. I really wanted to use my capacities in term of writing and filming. That’s why I came to this idea of “digi-novel,” a way to combine the best of movies to the best of literature and virtual communities in a single experience. In “Dark Prophecy,” there is a one-hour movie, cut in 10 parts, that readers discover while reading on the website www.level26.com.

You are writing “Level 26” with [crime novelist] Duane Swierczynski. How do you work together?


I write a story in 60 or 90 pages that Duane develops into a proper novel, then I do the filming. After that, Duane sees what I filmed in order to adapt the novel perfectly. It’s a new way of working, which is adapted to technologies like the iPad. I’m pretty sure that tablet computers will radically change the way we consume culture.

Will it kill the reader’s imagination?

This raises an important point. On the one hand, you can read the book without looking at the movie. The book is independent from the images, because I don’t want to impose on the readers the way I see my characters, if he doesn’t want to. On the other hand, if you want more interactivity, it's possible. No need to wait for the movie to come out — it’s already there!

People say you were working in a Vegas hotel when you had the idea for ‘CSI.’ Truth or urban legend?

No, it’s true! I lived for 41 years in Las Vegas, and I really drove a little train at the Mirage Hotel in the Treasure Hotel Island for eight dollars an hour! The idea of “CSI” came when my wife watched a documentary on forensic scientists. I’m neither a cop nor a scientist. I’m just a screenwriter who carried out a lot of research. I think I managed to get the mysteries of our generation through the forensic scientists prism. I’m really proud of what has been done.

 
 
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