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CSI Gets Jolt of Procedural Reality

CBS is looking to help out the L.A. Sheriff's office this weekend with a tag team lineup of 48 Hours and CSI: Miami, complete with a fascinating twist/tie-in to a real serial killer.

Shameless promotion of an a CBS series by a co-owned news show? 48 Hours Executive producer Susan Zirinsky says her show actually first had the idea to do something on serial killer William Bradford. "We were on this story," she says, prompted by the L.A. cold case department's release back in July of a wanted poster of pictures taken by the now death-row inmate that had been misplaced and recently fond. The cold case squad was looking to account for all the women pictured.

Bradford was a fashion photographer and had taken scores of pictures, luring at least two women to their deaths in the California desert by promising to make them stars. since 48 Hours' bread-and-butter is true crime, Zirinsky and company started work on a show, she says.

Then came the twist. CSI: Miami producers, who she says are fans of 48 Hours, called and said that Eva La Rue, who plays a investigator of murder crime scenes on the show, had seen the poster and identified her sister, Nika--still very much alive-- as one of the women. La Rue believes she, too, had been photographed by Bradford as a teenager for a local modeling talent hunt.

Zirinsky decided to incorporate La Rue's story into the show, "Exposed," which airs Saturday Nov. 12. Meanwhile,  CSI writers, including former L.A. Sheriff's Department Homicide Detective John Haynes, decided to write an episode about it. But there is an extra twist, says Zirinsky: "[Haynes] served with the cop, Sergeant Bobby Taylor, who is now investigating this cold case."

The result was Haynes' "Dark Room," (air date Monday, Nov. 13) which includes not only La Rue, but her sister, Nika, in the small role of a reporter. "They're doing the fictionalized version and we're doing the real thing," says Zirinsky.

The shows have been working with L.A. police and will both link to the poster in case viewers have info on any of the women pictured.

Zirinsky says they worked to time the two shows so that 48 Hours preceded the CSI: Miami episode, and clips from CSI are included in the 48 Hours piece, along with interviews with La Rue, Bradford family members and police.

So, what about that shameless sweeps promotion aspect? "I was going to do the show without the CSI angle," she says. "Crime and punishment is our genre, week in and week out. The CSI angle was a pretty amazing angle and the reality of art imitating life or life imitating art.

And the sweeps timing: "I'm a hand-to-mouth girl," she says. "We have a certain number of shows in production and I do less planning for sweeps because usually we are so hand-to-mouth. So, would I have done this in sweeps anyway. I don't know. But if this weren't here, I wouldn't have another show to put in its place."

Producer Gayagne Keshishyan added that the CSI: Miami staffers said they wanted to do it because they thought it could do some good by helping identify the women. "They actually pushed their production" to make it happen, said Zirinsky.