‘CSI: New York’ killer will get a Second Life sentence
Ellen Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Fans of “CSI: New York” will be able to join TV investigators in solving murders when Detective Mac Taylor chases a killer into the online world of Second Life, where – CBS execs hope – the show’s viewers will follow.
Anthony Zuiker, creator of the three “CSI” television shows, announced the venture Wednesday at the Virtual Worlds Conference in San Jose.
In a project with the Electric Sheep Co., which is partly owned by CBS, the Oct. 24 episode of “CSI: New York” will feature Taylor, played by Gary Sinise, going into Second Life to chase a killer.
Spoiler alert: At the end of the episode, the killer will get away, opening the door for the Second Life part of the adventure. Fans will be directed to a special section of Second Life to continue the story, with a series of virtual murders that they can help solve.
The plot thickens in February, when the story line – and the killer – return to television. It will happen just in time for the Grammys and will incorporate an as-yet unsigned rock star, who will not only play a role on “CSI” and help catch the killer, but will also perform a concert in Second Life.
It’s not the first time a television show has ventured into the virtual world. MTV hosts virtual worlds based on such shows as “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach,” and the CW’s new “Gossip Girl” has a neighborhood in Second Life called the Upper East Side.
But the “CSI: New York” project is the first of its kind, with a long-term commitment that has the show’s characters going in and out of the television and virtual worlds, Zuiker said in an interview. It also has an ending, returning to the television show for the conclusion of the story.
The challenge, of course, is getting “CSI” fans – many of whom are Baby Boomers, according to Zuiker – to try Second Life.
To make it easier, viewers will be directed to Second Life through CBS and a program created by Electric Sheep. It will simplify the experience, offering ready-made avatars, an orientation into Second Life and tools to solve the murders. Regular Second Life users can play, too, of course, but CBS is trying to attract newbies.
“It’s definitely an aggressive experiment,” he said.
Zuiker added that fans will still understand what’s happening on television if they don’t participate in the Second Life portion.
Zuiker said he became interested in virtual worlds when he read an article about Second Life in a Southwest Airlines magazine about four months ago. He and Electric Sheep teamed up, filming a seven- to 10-minute sequence for the October episode based on his script.
Though the Second Life arc ends in February, CBS could extend it if it’s successful.
Another spoiler alert: The day after the killer is captured, the Second Life jail that’s holding the suspect blows up and the killer gets away, potentially setting up another chapter in the story.
“We’re going to blow this whole thing up,” Zuiker said.
E-mail Ellen Lee at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page C – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle