Exactly a decade after CBS launched the most recent CSI spinoff, CSI: NY, the network is at it again with a new planted spinoff, which will air as an episode of the venerable crime drama this spring. Just like CSI spinoff CSI: Miami and CSI: Miami offshoot CSI: NY, the new spinoff will be written by CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, longtime CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn and former CSI: Miami showrunner Ann Donahue. The new series, from CBS Studios and Bruckheimer TV, will mark a departure from criminal forensics, which has been the subject of the first three CSI series, focusing instead on cyber crimes, an area Zuiker had been exploring for several years. The new project is not related to the Cyber Crimes drama Zuiker created for CBS four seasons ago. Inspired by the work of Irish cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, the proposed CSI spinoff centers on Avery Ryan, Special Agent in Charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI in Quantico, VA, who is tasked with solving major crimes that start in the mind, live online, and play out into the real world. Zuiker, Mendelsohn and Donahue are executive producing with Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman. Aiken will serve as a producer. Given the new setting for the latest CSI spinoff, it is unclear if it would keep the CSI moniker or switch to a new one the way CBS did with NCIS, which was spun off from military drama JAG. CBS is looking to spin off both of its long-running crime procedurals this season with NCIS prepping a New Orleans-set planted spinoff starring Scott Bakula, which also will air as an episode in the spring.
Zuiker has been at the forefront of entertainment’s digital conversion, experimenting in the arena for the past decade. That has included his digi-novel Level 26, which crossed over into CSI to strong ratings, and his digital film Cybergeddon. As part of his research for his 2009 CBS drama project Cyber Crimes, Zuiker spent time in Washington meeting with the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense. That procedural centered on a newly formed government agency that fights the modern onslaught of Internet- and technology-driven offenses. It makes sense for CBS to try to expand CSI, which has been a billion-dollar franchise for the company and one of the most popular drama brands globally. The mothership series is now in its 14th season, CSI: Miami ran for 10 seasons; CSI: NY for nine.