Gary Dourdan, <EM>CSI</EM> Gary Dourdan, CSI

Tonight’s CSI (9 pm/ET on CBS) was directed by Oscar-winner William Friedkin, the film legend behind two of the 1970s’ biggest blockbusters — The French Connection and The Exorcist — and the man who also helped launch the career of CSI’s William Petersen by giving him the lead in 1985’s To Live and Die in L.A.

"Every year [Petersen] says to me, ‘Why don’t you do a show for me,’ and so I made the time to do it. It was terrific — I really did it for the opportunity to work with Billy again," explains Friedkin.

That said, Petersen’s Gil takes a backseat tonight to Warrick — as the investigator’s job begins to suffer because of his pill addiction. "[Gary Dourdan] is just wonderful in it," says Friedkin. "He touches a lot of very sensitive areas." When asked if directing TV is different than films, Friedkin notes, "not very much… only [that] you have to do things a lot faster."

Having garnered a reputation for pushing the envelope, he does confess, however, that "I got a ton of notes from Standards and Practices. I was surprised, frankly." Did he try to put his stamp on the show? "I wasn’t conscious of trying to do that. It’s a top-rated show…. It’s not broke and they didn’t call me in to fix it."

The episode was written with Friedkin in mind — there’s even a chase scene. That got us thinking: Does he think his famed French car chase has ever been bettered?

"I’ve seen stuff — specifically in those Bourne films — that impresses me tremendously, and because they’re working with a bigger budget and modern technology, they can accomplish more than we were able to."

Watch more of Gil and Warrick in our Online Video Guide.

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