SEX AND THE SINGLE CSI
Marg Helgenberger flirts with danger – and her husband – on this week’s steamy episode.
May 1, 2005
By Craig Tomashoff
It’s the sort of scandalous celebrity moment that gets the paparazzi all in a lather. There’s a TV star, CSI’s Marg Helgenberger, cozying up to a handsome stranger at the dimly lit bar of a Los Angeles nightclub.
Her cheeks turn as red as her hair when he whispers something into her ear. Their eyes lock and Helgenberger heads toward the door with her new friend in tow. Romance seems certain until a tall man in a baseball cap steps between the pair, shouting, “Cut!”
OK, so Helgenberger isn’t really cheating on her husband of 15 years, actor Alan Rosenberg (The Guardian). In fact, he’s the one wooing her in the scene that’s being filmed for this week’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Even so, there are some secrets the couple prefers to hide from a prying press. What Rosenberg whispered in his wife’s ear, for instance.
“It was sexy, silly funny things,” says a coy Helgenberger later. Adds her grinning husband: “I did say, ‘Belt and suspenders.’ And that’s all I’m going to tell.”
They may be tight with the details of this romantic rendezvous, but as it turns out, the story line was Helgenberger’s idea. In the episode, things heat up for the normally cool Catherine Willows, when she winds up flirting with a potential murderer who puts her in serious conflict with Grissom (William Petersen).
“It’s my effort to explore her desires,” says Helgenberger, who modeled the pitch on the 1977 film “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” “What does this woman do after throwing herself into death and decay for hours on end?”
The idea fit perfectly with CSI producers’ season-long plan to give Catherine a personal life. (Her mother, played by Anita Gillette, shows up in this episode, too.) Catherine’s flirtation with fellow investigator Warrick Brown seems to have stalled – “It’s something we’ll deal with next year,” promises executive producer Carol Mendelsohn – so now she’s started looking for love in all the wrong places.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if the first person she kisses on the show is her husband?’” Mendelsohn says. Helgenberger agreed, but Rosenberg was reluctant to mix his personal and professional lives. Still, it’s not like the two haven’t worked together before: They met on the set of the soap Ryan’s Hope, where she played a cop and he was the sleazy operator of a hotel for hookers. Even after he signed on to CSI, though, the couple decided not to rehearse their scenes at home.
Helgenberger’s probably glad that her husband won’t bring this work home with him. Their kiss, which starts out tender but ends up terrifying when Rosenberg’s character goes too far, leaves the breathless actress gasping, “That was different!”
“I’ve never approached her with that kind of energy before,” says Rosenberg with a sly grin. “We don’t do any role-playing games in our relationship – you know, she’s the cop, I’m the naughty boy. But after seeing how it went with this, maybe we should.”
Perhaps the paparazzi will get their shot after all!
*A scan of this article can be found here.