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‘CSI’s’ Anthony Zuiker inks ABC pact

Writer-producer to develop for ABC after 12 years with CBS

After a dozen years with CBS, Anthony Zuiker, creator of the “CSI” franchise, is making a move to ABC Studios with a new three-year first-look pact.

Deal calls for Zuiker’s Dare to Pass production banner to develop new projects for the Alphabet network. He’ll also partner with ABC Studios-based Brillstein Entertainment TV on various scripted projects.

As strong as his relationships at CBS are, Zuiker said he felt it was time for him “talk a walk around the block and hear the other networks out.” ABC showed a “high level of passion” for bringing his company under the Mouse House tent, he said.

As part of the new deal, Dare to Pass will relocate its offices from the CBS Radford lot to new digs in Santa Monica. The company run by prexy Matt Weinberg has a total of five staffers who are juggling a range of projects, including original crime-based storytelling ventures designed for iPad apps.

Zuiker has been a pioneer in cross-platform storytelling through his “Level 26” digital novels, published through the Dutton/Penguin Group. But for now, Zuiker’s primary focus will be on developing traditional dramas for ABC. Dare to Pass has about a half-dozen projects in the hopper that Zuiker is ready to pitch to ABC/ABC Studios brass.

Among those projects are a script Zuiker penned and a script he co-wrote. And he’s looking forward to “sitting down and writing something from scratch” after he gets a feel for the kind of material ABC brass are pursuing.

“I’m always looking for the fashion-forward idea,” Zuiker said. “I think we’re ready for the next evolution of the crime drama.”

The partnership with Brillstein was a natural as Zuiker has longed been repped by the management side of the company. Zuiker’s manager, Margaret Riley, will serve as an exec producer, along with Brillstein TV prexy JoAnn Alfano, on any projects that stem from the partnership.

Even with the move to ABC, Zuiker remains an exec producer on the mothership “CSI” as well as “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY,” and he plans to keep tabs on his offspring. He will also maintain close ties to CBS Corp. topper Leslie Moonves and CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler.

“I’m excited about this new chapter and new journey (with ABC), and Les and Nina have been incredibly gracious and supportive of me,” he said. “It’s a testament that you get back what you give…I told Leslie I’ve given everything I could possibly give to the network for 12 years, and I’m leaving in good standing.”

Zuiker, also repped by CAA and Morris Yorn, was a tyro scribe from Las Vegas with only a few credits under his belt back in 1999 when “CSI” was first hatched. The deal with ABC brings him full circle, however, as “CSI” was initially developed for ABC through the studio arm that is now ABC Studios (then known as Touchstone TV). When the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced pilot was picked up to CBS, Touchstone pulled out as the production entity — a decision that has become one of the most notorious fumbles in recent primetime history.

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