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Mr. CSI: How a Vegas Dreamer Made a Killing in Hollywood, One Body at a Time

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Overview

In 1990, Anthony Zuiker was just another Hollywood wannabe—a balding, overweight guy driving a tram in Las Vegas for eight bucks an hour, telling his friends about the screenplay he was writing, dreaming of fame. He’d grown up in Vegas, where his mother worked the blackjack table at a casino, while his father flitted back and forth from investment schemes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. His friends figured Anthony wouldn’t either.

But twenty years later, Zuiker stands as the ...

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2011 Hard cover New Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 304 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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Mr. CSI: How a Vegas Dreamer Made a Killing in Hollywood, One Body at a Time

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Overview

In 1990, Anthony Zuiker was just another Hollywood wannabe—a balding, overweight guy driving a tram in Las Vegas for eight bucks an hour, telling his friends about the screenplay he was writing, dreaming of fame. He’d grown up in Vegas, where his mother worked the blackjack table at a casino, while his father flitted back and forth from investment schemes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. His friends figured Anthony wouldn’t either.

But twenty years later, Zuiker stands as the mastermind behind the most popular television show in history, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and its spin-offs: CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. How he got there—a remarkable rise from nothing to something—is the narrative lifeblood of Mr. CSI, only, like the show itself, there’s a catch:

On a January morning in 2005, Zuiker got a call from the Las Vegas Police Department while he was working at his desk on a script for CSI: NY. His estranged father, whom Zuiker hadn’t seen for a decade, had put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

So begins Mr. CSI, a book that frames Zuiker’s astonishing ascendency to fame and fortune with an unsettling and honest appraisal of his father’s suicide. It’s a book that uses the conventions that have made CSI a worldwide success to tell a far more personal story, of what one man left behind in his success and what he gained when he returned.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The creator of TV’s mega-popular CSI franchise, Zuiker brings his obvious skills as a writer to this memoir that will delight CSI fans. Zuiker begins with a death—the suicide of his father, who he hadn’t seen for 25 years, on the same night that CSI is receiving a People’s Choice Award and proceeds to skillfully weave his own upward struggle as a writer with his recollections and investigation of his father’s downward struggle as a fringe player in the Las Vegas gambling scene. Following his own dictum for the best CSI scripts—“The facts always told the best story”—Zuiker gives an unsentimental account of his father’s cruelty and desertion, his mother’s valiant attempts to keep going, and his own lively stories from his time as a bellman at the Mirage hotel in Vegas (Quentin Tarantino was a “good tipper”). But the book’s best section is his detailed account of the show’s creation, from his first attempts at screenwriting and his early research with Vegas CSI investigators, to how the show was picked up by CBS after being rejected by every other major network. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Is it possible for a ridiculously successful 43-year-old television writer and producer—Zuiker created the three-headed CSI TV juggernaut, which over the past years has been recognized as the most popular dramatic series in the world—to be a nice guy who comes across as an average type A Joe with whom you'd love to have a Shiner and shoot the breeze? Yep. Juxtaposed with Zuiker's story of how a Las Vegas kid went from a tram operator and bellhop at the Mirage to a television impresario is a compelling tale of his difficult relationship with his father. In true CSI modus operandi, Zuiker pieces together his father's past in an attempt to explain and reconcile his suicide in 2005. In doing so, Zuiker uncovers insight into his own creative and success-driven compulsions. VERDICT So, as Zuiker is often asked at bars and film school Q&As, how did he make his mondo score? He provides some good answers that both Hollywood wannabes and bliss seekers in need of inspiration could take to heart. A really good story from a cool Hollywood dude who has made it, but not lost it. [See Prepub Alert, 6/13/11.]—Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX
Library Journal
Zuiker really did make a killing by masterminding CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, and he's also the author of the cross-platform "Level 26" trilogy, just wrapping in November. But his memoir addresses a different kind of killing as well—his estranged father's suicide. With a 50,000-copy first printing; this will be popular.
Kirkus Reviews
The creator of one of TV's most successful franchises spills his guts. Zuiker knows how to tell a story, and like most episodes of CSI, this one begins with a grisly crime scene in a low-rent Las Vegas apartment. There, the real-life inspirations for the author's fictional characters discovered the body of his long-estranged father, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Zuiker received the news the next morning, after having attended an awards show the night before, and his return to his hometown to deal with the aftermath provides a gripping start to his memoir. The reminiscences about his troubled relationship with his father, a hustler in the old Vegas mold, distinguish the book as more than an ordinary autobiography of a self-made man. But the majority of the narrative is just that, told with humor and a notable lack of ego. Zuiker's ambition to succeed was clear from an early age, and he embarked on a series of often ill-advised get-rich schemes, including selling dice games of his own creation through vending machines and creating advertising ideas for businesses from casinos to adult stores. However, it was his involvement with scholastic public-speaking competitions that led to his eventual triumph in Hollywood. The actual creation of the CSI franchise makes up a relatively small part of the story, though there are a few anecdotes about the stars and the people behind the scenes. The promise of the book's beginning remains largely unfulfilled, however, as Zuiker finds forgiveness for his father's shortcomings but fails to explore their impact on his life. A well-told tale of rags to Hollywood riches, but a missed opportunity for a deeper exploration of a creative mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061725494
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony E. Zuiker is the creator and executive producer of the most watched television show in the world, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as well as CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. He is also the author of the bestselling novels Level 26: Dark Origins, Dark Prophecy, and Dark Revelations. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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