BH Interview: 'C.S.I' Creator Trades TV for Web with 'Cybergeddon'
Anthony E. Zuiker is responsible for one of modern television’s most durable franchises – “C.S.I.” That’s the kind of clout that should give Zuiker the creative freedom most artists crave.
You won’t find his latest project on ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC, though. Nor will you surf onto it at AMC, HBO or TNT.
The first three chapters of Zuiker's “Cybergeddon” went live today across 25 countries in 10 different languages on Yahoo!. The show will roll out as a series of nine digital chapters – three per day over the next three days.
Consumers simply embrace content in ways they never did before, something which compelled him to bring “Cybergeddon” to the Web first.
“We are ironically in the Golden Age of Television,” Zuiker tells Big Hollywood, adding it's an age “wrapped up in our technological revolution."
His latest creation is certainly a snug fit for our changing times.
“Cybergeddon” stars Missy Peregrym (“Stick It,” “Rookie Blue”) as an investigator checking out a seemingly unrelated series of cyber-attacks. Her character ends up caught in a digital web, and now she must use her unique skills to clear her name. The series also stars Olivier Martinez (“Unfaithful”) and Manny Montana (“Breakout Kings”).
The show includes an immersive site featuring additional show clips, behind-the-scenes footage, more revealing character information and interviews with the cast and crew. And, for those intrigued by the cyber-crime issues in play, they can learn more about the frightening realities behind the fictional tale.
Zuiker modified his narrative approach for the new medium – even though the entire project essentially represents a 90-minute movie. The segments were designed to be watched in 10 minute installments, necessitating a need for mini-cliffhangers to keep viewers coming back for more.
“I didn’t have the liberty to take our time in the storytelling. It’s a very high pace,” he says.
Fleshing out the cast for “Cybergeddon” wasn’t as simple as some of his previous projects. Some actors’ agents “didn’t understand what we were doing,” he admits. “For those who met with us, and me in particular, it wasn’t an issue.”
His show’s stars aren’t going to get rich here, though.
“They’re not going for their normal fees. It’s a passion project,” he says.
Zuiker and crew teamed up with Norton, the company behind the popular anti-virus software, to both research the project and offer the kind of cross promotional relationships seen in recent years. Call it the zenith of product placement seen on the small screen for some time now.
Zuiker isn’t giving up on television. His production company continues to produce daily shows, and the "C.S.I." franchise remains in play. He also understands it's shrewd to have a Plan B. The commercial model which kept TV shows afloat for decades is “crumbling and failing,” and it’s time to investigate newer ways of reaching the masses.
“We have to evolve with the technology and the global behavior shift,” Zuiker says.