CSI mastermind Anthony Zuiker will continue to call CBS home with a two-year exclusive first-look deal with CBS TV Studios.
Zuiker will remain as an executive producer of the three CSI series, but the focus under the new deal will be on developing new projects—primarily scripted and reality TV as well as publishing and cross-platform storytelling—through his production company Dare to Pass.
Zuiker came up with the name for the shingle after ABC famously passed on the Touchstone TV-developed CSI, which ended up at CBS.
“If you pass on a project it may end up somewhere else,” Zuiker said. “I’m daring them to pass.”
In ramping up Dare to Pass, Zuiker has tapped Matthew Weinberg as president of production.
Weinberg, most recently a partner at management/production company Guy Walks Into a Bar, was the last person Zuiker interviewed for the job, but the two go back 10 years, before Zuiker became an overnight success with his first TV pilot script, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
At the time, Weinberg worked with Zuiker’s longtime manager Margaret Riley and helped him with a feature script on which he was working. “I remember [Weinberg] brought out the best of me in writing the story,” Zuiker said.
Zuiker, a pioneer when it comes to integrating digital extensions into TV storytelling, plans to continue those efforts.
“Every show that Matt and I pursue, we will approach it first and foremost as an opportunity to create a hit on TV, but there are other ways to consume narrative: through mobile, gaming, publishing,” Zuiker said. “The future of television is a 24/7 experience.”
Outside of his relationship with CBS, Zuiker has been working on Level 26: Dark Origins, a multimedia “digi-novel” that Zuiker described as “an edgy version of CSI.” Slated to be published by Dutton on Sept. 8, it’s a book supplemented with three-minute “bridge” videos—on which Zuiker made his directorial debut—featuring characters from the novel.
Orlin Dobreff, who worked as Zuiker’s assistant for the past eight years, is being upped to vp at Dare to Pass after serving as line producer on Level 26.
“He’s gone from handling the phones to a full-fledged producer,” Zuiker said.
Zuiker, also repped by CAA and attorney Kevin Yorn, previously had an eight-figure, multiyear overall deal with CBS TV Studios that expired.
Under the new first-look arrangement, he plans for the first time to develop ideas for cable networks. But overall, all projects will be created “as if they will live on CBS,” Zuiker said. “CBS is my home.”