CSI creator’s plans for a digital empire

Anthony Zuiker will always be known as
the creator of “CSI,” but he’s also the author of the “Level 26” thriller
series. Now he’s bringing the two worlds together.

On the Oct. 14 episode of “CSI,” the forensic investigators
will square off against Sqweegel – the “forensic proof” serial killer from
Zuiker’s books. Ann Margaret guest stars in the episode.

Single character crossovers from the book to TV world are
rare – but Zuiker’s not planning to stop there. Two weeks after the episode
airs (and, conveniently enough, the second “Level 26” book hits store shelves),
Zuiker hopes to launch an iPad ‘digi-novel’ of the book, which will incorporate
several multimedia elements, including a one-hour digital short telling a back
story featuring the book’s characters. (Justine Bateman is among the cast.)

Zuker incorporated these cyber-bridges into his first “Level
26” book, but felt they were too disjointed and out of context. Readers were
also directed to the book’s Website to view them, which wasn’t ideal. (Readers
of “Dark Prophecy,” the second book will also have a chance to watch them
online.) By making the book an app – and not just a download from the iBooks
store, he was able to incorporate all the interactive elements into a single

“The ideal consumption experience is really on something
like the iPad,” he says. “Words pulse as you read them and you can flick your
finger and a gunshot hole appears on the screen. It allows you to collect
evidence that leads to a separate story line.”