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‘Cold Case' producers explain Pearl Jam pick

Ellen Gray
Philadelphia Daily News (MCT)

You'd think that in a TV universe where shows with fewer than 10 million viewers can be described as hits, that CBS' "Cold Case," with more than 11.5 million, would be a lock to return.

Not necessarily.

The crime drama, which is set in Philadelphia (and occasionally even filmed here), is said to be on the bubble at CBS, which is reportedly looking at production costs at several of its aging procedurals, including "Cold Case," "Without a Trace" and "Numbers."

"Numbers" being the one I watch regularly, I can say only that the "Nova"-like graphics that now pop up every time math whiz Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) opens his mouth probably add more to the budget than they do to my enjoyment.

With "Cold Case," though, it's the music I've wondered about.

This Sunday's episode is the first of a two-part season finale that features the music of Pearl Jam, including five cuts from the recent re-release of the band's 1991 album "Ten."

The show often uses music to set the scene for its visits to the past, but it wasn't immediately clear why Pearl Jam would be used for a story involving the 2005 murder of a female cadet at a fictional military college.

So given the album re-release, was this product placement?

No way, said executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Greg Plageman, who co-wrote the two-parter.

The show had tried in the past to get permission to use one of the band's songs, but had been denied, Johnson said Wednesday, and this is "the first time they've opened their whole catalog."

It might not have hurt that "Cold Case" was interested in using a number of the band's songs, the way it's done with other artists, including Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon.

But there's no multiple-song discount, Plageman said.

"We actually don't pay less. I wish we did," he said.

The choice of Pearl Jam, Johnson said, was more a question of attitude than era, since the episodes, which include scenes shot last month in Philadelphia, deal with the parallels between the cadet's experiences and those of "Cold Case's" Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris).

"Kate's journey is very similar to Rush's journey, and in a sense, to Pearl Jam's journey," Johnson said. "It's the first time we've really told Lilly Rush's origins story."

Though budget cuts appear likely if the show returns, the producers said they're not looking to touch the music budget.

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