Sunday, July 13, 2008

Michael Harvey

Michael Harvey is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the television series Cold Case Files, as well as an Academy Award-nominee for his documentary Eyewitness, and is a former investigative reporter for CBS. And he wrote The Chicago Way.

From a Q & A at the publisher's website:

Q: Where did the idea for THE CHICAGO WAY come from?

Good question. I had around about a hundred pages of this novel sitting in the back of a drawer for about two years. I pulled that out in April of 2006 and decided I wanted to finish it. At that time, I had a beginning and an end with not much else in between. So I just decided to sit down and write.

I let the characters start talking and they told me where to go with the story. The specific plot lines are all fictitious. I have, however, had a lot of contact with cops, killers, prosecutors, and forensic types. through my work as a journalist and documentary producer. That experience, to some extent, informs the entire manuscript and hopefully adds an air of authenticity to the novel.

Q: You are the creator of the highly popular television show Cold Case Files. How did you come to be involved in that show?

The year was 1997. I was working away on a variety of documentary projects both for television and film. My work covered a range of topics, everything from the Holocaust to life inside the Clinton White House. The bulk of my documentary work, however, focused on the inner workings of the criminal justice system. (This was before CSI and its progeny.) Most of the general public had never heard of DNA, except through the prism of the OJ Simpson trial. As I talked to prosecutors and detectives and saw what was going on, it became apparent that the science of forensic DNA was going to change the criminal justice system in a way that was fundamental and unprecedented. I’m no genius but I figured we might want to pay attention to that.

The specific angle of cold cases was really a story-telling decision. The idea that a box of evidence could sit on a shelf for decades and then suddenly be pulled down, dusted off and mined for the name of the killer had a lot of appeal. I always thought of it as the “ultimate whodunit.” To that end, the first hour was written and shot in a film noir style. We thought that would give the show a unique identity and allow us to ramp up the atmospherics.

Cold Case Files was an immediate ratings hit. The network ordered a slate of shows and we were on our way. I produced and wrote the first ten to fifteen hours. As the work load increased, I moved into a executive producer role, overseeing a wonderful team of producers, editors and photographers. Cold Case Files has been twice nominated for a Prime Time Emmy for best non-fiction series.
Read the entire Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue