An unscipted series, Discovery’s The New Detective, served as inspiration for Anthony E. Zuiker‘s mega-successful CSI crime drama franchise. Now he is embarking on a reality series inspired by his work on CSI. ABC has given a 9-episode order to Whodunnit?, a competition reality series from Zuiker and veteran unscripted producer Cris Abrego to air in the summer. The series, produced by Zuiker’s Dare to Pass and Abrego’s 51 Minds, echoes a classic whodunnit murder mystery with a pinch of Clue and The Mole thrown in. Whodunnit will feature 13 amateur sleuths pitted against each other in a quest to solve a series of puzzling murders “committed” by one of them as they use a variety of crime scene investigation techniques to uncover evidence. The contestants will stay in a glitzy estate where each week they must solve a new murder in order to advance in the game until only three are left standing. In the final episode, one player will unmask the killer and take home the $250,000 prize. “I’ve built a career telling crime stories, and if there is one thing that I’ve learned, especially from CSI, it is that the audience loves to solve the mystery,” said Zuiker. “Whodunnit? allows everyday fans to be in the show themselves, and get the chance every week to do what they love best, which is ultimately solve the case.” Zuiker and Abrego executive produce Whodunnit? Dare to Pass president Matt Weinberg serves as producer.
In addition to creating the CSI franchise, which spanned three series — the mothership CSI and spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, Zuiker executive produces the Whit Anderson-written NBC drama pilot Wonderland. His Dare to Pass production company has a first-look deal with ABC Studios to develop scripted series in partnership with Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Zuiker, repped by CAA and Brillstein, also pioneered the “Digi-novel” genre as author of the “Level 26” series and created and executive produced Yahoo film Cybergeddon. Abrego made his mark in celebreality programming, co-creating and executive producing VH1’s The Surreal Life, Flavor Of Love and Rock Of Love.