CSI Exposed: The secrets between television and real life

IMG_5016By Martina Gutierrez

Combining science and entertainment, “CSI Las Vegas” actors David Berman and Jon Wellner came to DMACC West Campus for Celebrate Innovation week on March 5.

Berman plays the assistant coroner David Phillips on “CSI” and has been the show’s head researcher since the show began 14 years ago. Wellner plays the DNA Analyst, Henry Andrews and has also been a researcher for “CSI” 11 years.

Berman and Wellner talked about the secrets between television and real life. They have unique roles in the process of creating the television show “CSI Las Vegas.”

In addition, the two actors have roles on shows like “Bones” and “Drop Dead Diva,” among a few more projects coming up.

Berman and Wellner work hard as researchers. “Essentially, John and I are the link between ‘CSI’ writing staff and real-world professionals in both law enforcement and private sectors that provide important details to help CSI feel authentic as possible,” Berman said.

Five years ago they created the industry’s first entertainment researching company, The Entertainment Research Consultants.

“CSI” employs six to ten full-time writers along with freelance writers. The writers will gather together and throw out story ideas. After the “CSI” writers come up with the outlines, the writers then give Berman and Wellner a list of questions.

“We’ve been asked about roller coaster construction, cliff diving, and liposuction. Then we make phone calls to the professionals like Polk County medical examiner, Dr. Greggory Schmunk,” Berman said.

Writers then transform Dr. Schmunk’s information into the scene that is needed. Thus giving Dr. Schmunk a role for the show “CSI” as well, to make sure the show is accurate.

The secret between television and real life is on the television show, “CSI,” it takes about 30 seconds for a DNA sample to come back. In real life, it takes anywhere from six months to a year.

In an actual medical examination room, it is lit up with bright lights. On the show, it is dark with blue lights just because it looks cool.

Academic Advisor Bobby Nalean, 29, from the Ankeny Campus said, “It was very interesting, and a great behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were put together. It was great to get the full picture and thought it was interesting with the feedback from CBS, as well as the insight into how it looked from pre- to -post production. The list they had for what was accurate and was longer than the list of the stuff that was fake.”

DMACC West Campus student Adam Smith, 20, liberal arts major but going into Special Education said, “It was great and loved how they related things from their understanding to our understanding.”

Business/Web Design and Graphic Design major Jamie Von Syoc, 18, from Adel said, “It was awesome to learn some secrets. I thought that the video clips helped the presentation and thought it was cool that the Polk County coroner was there, and helped with the presentation.”


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