LOS ANGELES (AP) _ "CSI: NY’s" Gary Sinise likes to note that skylines aren’t the only difference between his show and its CBS siblings.
Take those overcoats, for instance.
Such outerwear is not often seen on either of the other two crime scene investigation shows _ "CSI," which is set in balmy Las Vegas, and "CSI: Miami," where its downright steamy.
"Obviously, we have a change of seasons, so the look of our show changes from season to season," says Sinise, wearing, yes, an overcoat between scenes on a mild Southern California day.
He plays Mac Taylor, who is the head of New York City’s crime lab and has a penchant for quantum physics. On this day, Mac has just finished examining incriminating data on a college dorm computer in connection with a homicide case.
"All the shows function off the same premise but each show has its own individual set of writers and producers and cast, so that makes us unique in itself, and then New York is a unique city, a melting pot," he says.
Perhaps for that reason, when Sinise was first approached about headlining the series, his character had a different name.
"I think it was Carlucci, or something like that, and I said, ‘I just don’t feel like a Carlucci,"’ he says, a faint trace of a smile flickering across his stern face.
"Sinise is actually Italian, but Carlucci is far more ethnically specific, so we started working out what his name would be and his background," the low-key star explains, noting that in this third season it’s hard to fully remember which were his ideas and which were the producer’s.
On a soundstage on the CBS lot in suburban Studio City, pictures of Taylor in his previous job as a Marine hang on the walls of the crime unit office alongside a plaque with a maxim about the importance of a nation taking "care of its dead."
Taylor is a widower who lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks _ a plot point that in 2004 led the series to film the conclusion of its first episode at Ground Zero.
"I think he’s very private. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a flaw, but some people can interpret it that way," says Sinise, who tends to be that way himself. "He brings leadership ability to the job . . . He’s got a lot of integrity. He’s the kind of guy you want in charge. He’s just very businesslike."
Most episodes of "CSI: NY" feature two plot lines, so in this episode _ airing Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST _ Taylor’s cohort, Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), finds herself interrogating a shoplifter played by singer