'CSI' creator reveals the George Clooney movie that inspired the famous 'CSI shot'

Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the hit series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigations" and one of the stars, Marg Helgenberger, Zoom-chatted with Kylie Mar of Yahoo Entertainment about the 20th anniversary of the series premiere. Back on Friday, October 6, 2000, "CSI" premiered and was an immediate success. The series was so popular, it went on for 15 seasons, spawned three spin-offs and is seen in almost every country in the world. One of the things that made the show so unique was the so-called "CSI shot" where viewers would get a close-up look at a bullet tearing through flesh and organs, or a bone being broken in a fall. Anthony explained that he was inspired by an old George Clooney movie. "I got the "CSI shot by watching a movie called Three Kings, where the bullet went into the body," Anthony said. "So it was just a different point of view of a forensic show and a cop show. Because actually you could dive in to see the forensics. So we coined them right in the script. It would be "CSI shot" in the secondary slug, or the shot line." Marg Helgenberger also spoke about the "CSI shot," saying, "What came to be known as "the CSI shot," you know following the trajectory of bullets through bodies," Marg explained, "I mean, there was all that sort of fun way to show the science, you know, not just talk about it. And that definitely was revolutionary."

Video Transcript

MARG HELGENBERGER: When I read that pilot script, I was-- you know, got very excited about it. And really just thought it was innovative and groundbreaking. And but also was kind of like what they ended up being referring to it as the 21st century Sherlock Holmes.

KYLIE MAR: It's been 20 years since the world was introduced to a new style of crime drama when "CSI Crime Scene Investigation" premiered on Friday, October 6, 2000. The show was an immediate success and spawned three spin-offs over a span of 16 years. To celebrate the 20-year anniversary, I recently chatted with star Marg Hellenberger, who played Catherine Willows. And she talked about what made the show so unique.

MARG HELGENBERGER: What then came to be known as the "CSI" shot, you, following the trajectory of bullets through bodies. And you know, if somebody had been drinking, and had a side poisoning. You know, to see the poison go through the-- to look at the X-ray machine. I mean, there all that kind of fun way to show the science, you know, and not just talk about it. And that definitely was revolutionary.

KYLIE MAR: The man behind the revolutionary shot is the show's creator, Anthony Zeuiker. So I zoomed into his Malibu home to find out the origin of the legendary "CSI" shot.

ANTHONY ZUIKER: I got the "CSI" shot by watching a movie called "Three Kings," where the bullet [WHISTLES] right into the body. So it was just a different point of view of a forensic show, cop show, which you actually could dive in to see the forensics.

KYLIE MAR: Anthony has every reason to celebrate the big anniversary. But just like everyone else in 2020, his plans were sidelined by the coronavirus.

Are you doing anything special for the 20th anniversary?

ANTHONY ZUIKER: Well, we thought we were. We thought we might be debuting "CSI, the Comeback" right around October 6 of 2020 to make it 20 years. But unfortunately, that little pandemic stopped us. So it'll be delayed for probably a year.

KYLIE MAR: That's right. It looks like we'll get to see more crime scenes being investigated in the future. And Anthony told me some of those investigations are being written as we speak.

ANTHONY ZUIKER: Well, in terms of the writer's room, I know that the showrunner is probably done with eight of 10. I know that much. So it's a limited series. And so never before in history the world, they never has scripts before actors, so enjoy it. So we'll most likely be shooting in the spring of '21. And fingers crossed, the game plan is to air in the fall of '21.

KYLIE MAR: Anthony was clearly bummed that the new episodes had been pushed back so much. But he's excited for what the future holds for the "CSI" world.

ANTHONY ZUIKER: We're the most proud about setting the show in today's times, in today's fake news, in today's cancel culture, in today's Black Lives Matter, and all these-- these things are all-- pandemic, it's all here. So it does reflect how we write the scripts, how we deal with the scripts, as some of the things we do take on as representative of this generation versus 20 years ago.

KYLIE MAR: While Anthony's lips were sealed when I asked who is returning for the limited series, it has been reported that William Petersen and Jorja Fox are in talks to reprise their roles as Gil Grissom and Sara Sidel. As for my girl, Marg, she'd have to find time to shoot around the schedule of her current "CBS" show, "All Rise," but would love to be a part of the revival. She even has an idea of what Catherine would be up to these days.

Now, in 2020, where would Catherine be? What would she be doing? How would she be handling the pandemic?

MARG HELGENBERGER: Interesting. Well, when we did the series finale, which would have been after season 15, at that point, Catherine was in the FBI. So I would think she's-- you know, FBI director. [LAUGHS] Why not, right?

KYLIE MAR: Yeah. Love that.