Wednesday, July 16, 2008

William Petersen Is Leaving CSI This Season

William Petersen is leaving CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and many fans of his Gil Grissom will not be happy. Petersen has agreed to return for occasional guest appearances and will remain a "CSI" executive producer but his run as an original cast member will end this coming season, executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar said Tuesday. The air date for his final episode, the season's 10th, has yet to be determined but probably will be at the beginning of 2009, the producers said. The series debuted in fall 2000.

A number of familiar characters will return in the episodes building up to Grissom's departure, among them his former colleague and flame Sara Sidle, played by Jorja Fox; the Miniature Killer and sexy Lady Heather. "Who better to turn to when you're a scientist in crisis," Mendelsohn said jokingly of Heather (Melinda Clarke).
The decision to leave was Petersen's, the producers said, declining further comment. A call to Petersen's publicist was not returned Tuesday. The actor had taken a break during the 2006-07 season to perform in a play, with Liev Schreiber stepping in as a visiting investigator.

The long-running show remains key for CBS: CSI finished last season as the network's top-rated series, ranking No. 9 among all shows with an average weekly audience of 17 million. Spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: New York ranked 16th and 28th, respectively.

The producers were mum about specific plot points but said that Grissom will be reappraising his life after years of high-tech forensics investigations with the Las Vegas Police Department and after facing personal turmoil. "We're talking about a man who has suffered a great deal of loss recently... A man thinking about the next phase of his life," Shankar said. Shankar and Mendelsohn vowed that cast changes won't change CSI. "What makes shows go off the rails is they forget who they are. We're a crime-mystery-forensics drama" with a focus on exceptional cases, Shankar said.

Remember it was just this season that cast regular Jorja Fox left after playing the character of Sara Sidle since the show aired and Gary Dourdan’s run as Warrick Brown…. well that ended in the season finale. So that means three of the original cast members will be gone. This will really change the show. Let’s hope only for the better.