Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Josh Berman, Executive Producer on C.S.I.

Finding C.S.I.

Josh Berman
Josh Berman

Josh Berman has been in Hollywood for less than a decade, but he's moved up—and forward—quickly.  At the age of 35, he's done well for himself.  An attorney, business school graduate, and Fulbright scholar, he's now one of the key names associated with the hit series, C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation. 

Growing up in Encino, California, Berman has always loved to write, and shortly after he interviewed former NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield for a story for the Stanford Business School newspaper, Littlefield was sufficiently impressed by Berman's writing to invite him to participate in television. 

"I started in Hollywood at the age of twenty-four as a summer associate at NBC," Berman says. He managed to work his way into the position of development executive for NBC Studios, and also winning an NBC contest with a spec episode of Seinfeld. "I was there three years altogether," he recalls, "and left as Director of Prime Time Series." Despite his success as an executive, he aspired to write, so when another opportunity arose, he wrote and produced a clever spoof of Ally McBeal, a popular show on Fox Network at the time, which he called Allyn McBeal.  That got him a deal with NBC as a writer.

"At that point in my life, despite having a fourteen hour work day, I couldn't fall asleep unless I wrote.   I could've written anything—it could have been a letter, it could have been a script—but that was my way of relaxing and clearing my head so I could fall asleep. I loved it so much that I thought if I could make a living writing, there would be nothing better.   So I wrote whenever I could."

Nevertheless, Berman had quite different aims in college.  As an undergraduate at Princeton University, he studied public policy, winning a Fulbright to Australia to study the educational system there. "I loved politics, urban planning and educational planning," he explains, "and what I found so fascinating at that time was that the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Australia both looked to each other's country as a role model.   Their own systems of education sucked, and I thought it was fascinating that to improve them they each wanted to copy another system that was flawed."

Berman also went to both law and business school at Stanford.  That background serves him well for writing courtroom scenes and for understanding the vicissitudes of evidence handling in the legal arena.  Beyond writing scripts, his business background yields advantages for plotting his career.  While one might spot a bit of luck here and there, such as crossing paths at the right time with the right people, there's no doubt that Berman has a shrewd perspective on opportunity and knows how to prepare for it.

C.S.I. CD-ROM Cover
C.S.I. CD-ROM Cover

In 2000, he read the pilot script for the CBS show, C.S.I., which detailed the science and investigation of crimes in Las Vegas. "I responded to the mystery," he told Talk CSI, an online interview forum, and mentioned to his agent that he liked it.  His agent submitted some of his material for consideration, and when showrunner Carol Mendelsohn read it, she invited Berman for an interview.  It obviously went well, because she hired him on the spot as an executive story editor, and he worked on most of the shows that first season.


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