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TV's Hottest Cop

As David Caruso savors the global success of "CSI: Miami," the former star of "NYPD Blue" won't forget the lessons he's learned, or the cigars he loves.
Betsy Model
From the Print Edition:
David Caruso, Jan/Feb 2007

(continued from page 5)

At the very least, the universe was sending Caruso some very strong signals. Margaret Buckley, Caruso's wife, had gone down to Miami with him during the shoot and the two fell in love with the city, so much so that they bought a luxury condo there with the intention of living in Florida part-time. The concept worked for both of them and, prior to their divorce, they opened Steam, an upscale clothing boutique in South Beach that Caruso still owns with partners.

"Miami is," Caruso muses, "a magical place…the American Riviera. I say that it's a four-hour plane ride to Europe because it's very European, and I think the influences there are very good to experience [because] priorities there are different. It's less about competition and material resources and money and more about quality of life. I think it's the city in America."

Caruso also credits the magic of Miami with helping propel "CSI: Miami" to the worldwide success it's had. "I think that when we get down there [to shoot], we connect with our soul as a show. It's very authentic and it's good for 'CSI: Miami' to be shooting in Miami, on the streets, in the Everglades sometimes, on some airboats."

Each week the show opens with aerial views of the Miami skyline and pan shots of Miami's beaches that are, while heart-stoppingly beautiful, strictly Hollywood creations; the vast majority of the show is actually shot on a film stage in the California suburb of Manhattan Beach.

Still, Caruso enthuses, on those rare occasions that they get to shoot in Miami, there's a natural response and energy from the cast, the crew and the film that immediately comes across. "When we get to shoot footage down there, you can see the difference right away. From a physical standpoint, the light and the environment simply explode onto the negative [when shooting] in Miami. The California footage is great, but there is a very unique electricity about south Florida when it's on the negative."

As someone who now lives on both coasts, Caruso points out another big difference that he says becomes apparent when they shoot in Miami. "Los Angeles is a big city. A smaller city like Miami means that you have relationships that are very real and day to day, and you're seeing the [same people] all the time. It's much harder, for instance, in Los Angeles where you can do a movie or work on a show with someone and they might be living [in the neighborhood] where I live but I might not see them for 10 years even though they're three blocks away! In Miami, you're going to see them all the time."

Another reason Caruso enjoys his time in Miami is being able to serve as a board member of the nonprofit organization Best Buddies. Based in Miami and founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the international organization helps connect those with intellectual challenges to a "best buddy" at school, at work and in the community.

Caruso's support of the organization and his relationship with his own best buddy, George Morilla, has always been important to the nonprofit, says Shriver, but it sends a special message now that Caruso is so highly visible around the globe. "David's got an impossible schedule, a brand new baby and a top-10 show," says Shriver, "but he's also managed to stay actively involved in his community. I think there are a lot of people who think, 'Oh, I don't have enough time to get involved' or 'The little bit of time I have won't make a difference' and then they see David making time and they start to think, 'Hey, if he can do it, I guess I can do it.'"

The commitment Caruso has made to Miami—on-screen and off—is obvious. He happily spends 10 minutes just mentioning some of his favorite things about South Beach—the best places for a drink, best places for Italian food, best art galleries to visit—and at no time does a smile or a sense of excitement leave his voice. Caruso may reside most of the year in L.A., but there's no doubt that he considers Miami his home.

"You asked me where I exhale?" responds Caruso to a question. "Miami. I exhale in Miami."

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