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ELDRED NATIVE CORINNE Marrinan has "graduated" from associate producer to writer on "CSI".
Marrinan's first 'CSI' to air Thursday
By Jeanne Sager
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. The biggest award in Hollywood hasn’t gone to Corinne Marrinan’s head.
But the years since the 1991 Eldred grad won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject haven’t been bad either.
She’s followed up the 2006 Oscar Award with a job promotion.
Her new gig?
Screenwriter for one of the biggest shows on television.
Her first teleplay will air in celebration of Halloween, episode four of the ninth season of CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
It was Marrinan’s first attempt at writing for television, a move she made simply to broaden her horizons.
She’d been working as an associate producer since the show’s inception, invited to join the crew by its star, William Peterson.
On the side, she’s been making documentaries, including 2006 Oscar winner “A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin.”
When Marrinan signed up for a mentorship program within the Producers Guild of America to build her career, she was told to start writing.
“I’d done all sorts of different kinds of writing, but I’d never done a screenplay or teleplay format,” she explained. “My mentor said storytelling’s storytelling, no matter the format.
“So I figured, I know all about CSI, why don’t I just do a CSI sample?” she continued.
As an employee of the show, she knew you rarely get a job as a screenwriter this way, but that wasn’t her aim. She simply wanted feedback.
So she handed her teleplay off to CSI executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m not trying to put any pressure on you. This is just something I did for myself . . . I’d like to know what you think.’”
When the writers’ strike started shortly after Marrinan handed it over, she figured it was forgotten. She started looking around at other options to broaden her creative horizons.
Then she heard from Mendelsohn and Shankar.
They not only liked it, they wanted to produce it. Traditionally, two CSI episodes a year are written by freelancers, people outside the show’s writing team.
They said they’d take Marrinan on as a freelancer and began helping her develop her script.
“My story was a little heavy, a little dark,” she explained. “She thought it would help having a comedic B story.”
Co-producer David Rambo was invited in to help develop a secondary story line, and the show was slated to air on Halloween Eve.
“It was really a very unique process for me,” Marrinan said. “I was just over the moon.”
That was just the beginning. Mendelsohn soon called Marrinan into her office.
They were still producing the episode, but how about writing some more . . . as a writer on the show?
“I’m not being modest when I say I was really surprised it doesn’t usually happen this way,” Marrinan said with a laugh.
She accepted, and suddenly her phone was ringing.
“I’m not embittered, I’m very happy with how everything’s worked out, but you win an Oscar, and it’s so great, and you get all these congratulations . . . but the phone doesn’t ringing from anyone other than your friends,” she said with a laugh. “The minute Carol Mendelsohn offers me the job as a writer on CSI, five agencies call!
“Nobody calls me when I win an Oscar, but I write one of 200 episodes and five people call!”
The chance gave her the pick of the litter and she chose an agency with a literary branch so she can have help should she choose to pursue other writing ventures down the road.
She’s already published books about CSI in the past and is in talks with an Irish film company to develop a psychological thriller.
Of course, Marrinan’s still making documentaries.
She’s enlisted celebrated sports photographer and director Neil Leifer to direct a film about the legally-blind photographers inspired by her own struggles with an ocular disease.
“That’s one thing about winning an Oscar. For once in my life I have the money to make a documentary before I make it,” she said with another laugh. “I don’t have to put this one on my credit card.”
Parents Kevin and Cathy Marrinan will celebrate their daughter’s screenwriting debut on Thursday evening when “Let it Bleed” airs on CBS at 9 p.m.
Up next? Wedding bells for Marrinan and fiance Ben Tripp, who plan to wed in late November.