Cracking the case

‘CSI’ actors unveil mysteries behind popular TV show
Nov. 13, 2012 @ 06:44 PM

More than 200 Davidson County Community College students, faculty and staff got a first-hand lesson on forensics and television magic from the professionals themselves. 

On Tuesday, the school welcomed actors and researchers David Berman and Jon Wellner from the CBS show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” as part of the school’s Campus Speaker series. The series is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to engage students and community members on different issues.
The stars shared their knowledge about how an episode of “CSI” is made, shared their favorite scenes, and answered questions about researching and acting on the show. They also highlighted what is called the “CSI effect” and “CSI shots.” The shots have become synonymous with the show’s infamous scenes that are displayed from inside the body and are meant to educate the audience.
“We try to make the show feel and be as accurate as possible. Audiences are very sophisticated, and they expect the science to be real,” Berman said. “Over the years, we have compiled over 300 names in different areas. We are discussing real scientific issues and the people that we talk to appreciate that the show attempts to make science as accurate as possible.”
Berman and Wellner often assist the writers with whether or not story ideas can be re-enacted in the most accurate and plausible manner for the show. They then research the topics, talk to experts and decide what is the best solution for the writers’ question.
The stars also compared the forensic science that is used at a true crime scenes versus a television crime scene and lab.
“Sometimes we end up doing research for an entire day for something that shows up for a second on ‘CSI’,” Berman said. “Other times, we do some research and it is prominently displayed for the entire show.”
While the stars admit that some things on the show are inaccurate, such as bombs, the morgue set and DNA results, they insist that it is purposeful.
“We will cheat some things for the sake of story,” Wellner said. “We do our very best to keep accurate as possible on ‘CSI.’ While we are here to educate, our first priority is to entertain.” 
Devony Baker, a DCCC graduate in criminal justice, said the program was a good experience for fans and students.
“It was great. I think that it is wonderful the school got someone to come out here and relay that there is fact and fiction when it comes to the show,” Baker said. “I watched that show for years, and what actually happens in real life is different from the show. For them to come out and explain how the show runs is an amazing thing.”
cdavis@hpe.com | 888-3657