The Connection Between Journeyman Outfielder Marquis Grissom and ‘CSI’

Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle and William Petersen as Dr. Gil Grissom in CBS's 'CSI: Vegas'
Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle and William Petersen as Dr. Gil Grissom in CBS's 'CSI: Vegas' (Image credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Gil Grissom, main character in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the upcoming spinoff CSI: Vegas, gets his name from Marquis Grissom, journeyman outfielder in the major leagues, according to CSI creator Anthony Zuiker. Grissom lasted for 17 seasons, playing for the Expos, Braves, Indians, Brewers, Dodgers and Giants, before retiring in 2005. 

Speaking on the Series Business podcast, Zuiker said Gil Grissom, who is played by William Petersen, is based on Daniel Holstein, who Zuiker met in a Vegas crime lab in 1989. Zuiker referred to the veteran investigator as “the mad scientist in real life.”

Holstein is a consultant on CSI: Vegas

But the character needed a name. Zuiker said it was initially Gil Sheinbaum, based on his preferred Cadillac dealer in Vegas, but that was changed to Gil Grissom, based on outfielder Marquis. 

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Zuiker wasn’t a huge fan of Marquis Grissom, but said he’d probably smacked a couple homers for the Expos when Zuiker was brainstorming names for his main character, and Gil Grissom won out. 

He added that CBS wasn’t wild about the name for Jorja Fox’s character, Sara Sidle, thinking it sounded too much like “suicidal.” “I got some blowback on that from CBS,” he said. “But I won the argument.”

CSI launched in 2000. CSI: Vegas premieres Oct. 6 on CBS. Besides Petersen and Fox, Paula Newsome and Wallace Langham are in the cast. 

Petersen discussed revisiting Grissom during a TCA session. “I sort of jumped at it,” he said. “It’s a different world from what it was 20 years ago.”

Speaking with B+C over the summer, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said of the new show, “It was the right producers and the right idea, and being able to get Billy [Petersen] and Jorja [Fox] back was huge as well. We expect that to be a hook for viewers to come back to see — a couple of very, very popular characters in TV history.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.