If a series has New York in its title, it's a good idea for it to film there.
Like all of the shows in the franchise, "CSI: NY" has its production base in Los Angeles, but its stars and crew make an annual trip east to shoot footage for several episodes. The CBS crime drama has three such stories early in its seventh season, and the first -- giving new series regular Sela Ward her first on-location "CSI" experience -- airs Friday, Oct. 29.
Her character, Jo, team leader Mac (Gary Sinise) and the rest of the squad are perplexed by a murderer who sways his victims' parents into tampering with the sites of his killings. Once they determine his modus operandi, the forensic detectives race time to predict his next step.
Ward was glad for a taste of the real New York while filming the episodes, especially so soon in her "CSI: NY" run.
"Here's a show that's been on the air for six years," she says, "and it's not on my shoulders, so I think I'll be able to have a life and at the same time be challenged. I didn't realize until I got back on the set how much I missed what I do. I'd done (the movies) 'The Stepfather' and 'The Day After Tomorrow,' but nothing to really sink my teeth into, so this has been fun."
An Emmy winner for both "Sisters" and "Once and Again," Ward says she "had made a conscious choice not to do another TV show while my children were at the age they were. I really wanted to be around, plus I was burned out from that kind of (weekly television) schedule. Now that they're older, I started thinking, 'I think I really miss it. If I could figure out how to have some balance, I think I'm going to go for it.' "
Also a producer of "CSI: NY," Sinise is happy to have Ward on board.
"Sela is such a nice and warm person," he says, "and we have such a relaxed and fun and easygoing vibe on our set; we welcomed her in, and she wanted us to help her through all this CSI stuff ... because it doesn't come naturally to most people. It's a new world, and she just grabbed hold of it. It was all very cordial and perfect, I thought.
"Melina (Kanakaredes, Ward's 'CSI: NY' predecessor) did a great job on the show for six years," Sinise adds, "but she decided she wanted to move on, and we wish her well. The show goes on, and we were fortunate enough to have someone like Sela Ward come in. We wanted it to be a smooth transition for both us and the audience, and I think it very much is."
Getting back to New York took quite some time for Ward, who recalls, "I think it was 1987 when I did (the movie) 'Hello Again' and last shot on the streets there. I love New York so much. I lived there when I was in my 20s, and I keep threatening to move back when my kids are in college. I couldn't wait to be back there."
Ward's two children will be college-ready within the next few years, when "CSI: NY" may or may not still be going. Even while the show is in season, Sinise travels extensively with his Lt. Dan Band (named after his "Forrest Gump" movie character) to entertain military personnel on behalf of the USO, and he's noncommittal about another round of weekly television work.
"Everything is up in the air," Sinise maintains, "but the one thing that we do know is that we have a seventh season to do right now, and our writers are tackling it with the same passion and fun that they go at everything with. And we have a fun new co-star who's bringing a lot of life to the show."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times